In a two-month operation with Interpol, Colombian police rescued 10,000 animals as part of an offensive against eco traffickers in the region.
The police operations, which according to El Tiempo newspaper, were concentrated in the departments of Antioquia, Cordoba and Putumayo, netted 10,702 animals and 331,320 derivatives (these include skins and eggs).
The species most prized by the traffickers are fish (of which 6,354 were seized), reptiles (1,960 rescued) and birds (1,816). Exotic spiders are also sought after by collectors and can fetch a high price on international markets. Iguana and turtle eggs are very popular for consumption.
The value of the wildlife rescued in Colombia was estimated at over $500,000, while the overall value of seizures in simultaneous Interpol operations in some 50 countries was more than $33 million.
Eco-trafficking is a little known criminal activity in Latin America and often more lucrative than arms or human smuggling.