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The Most Lucrative Form Of Contraband

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August 12, 2022

What is the most lucrative smuggling trade? Guns? Cocaine? No, neither. Parrots and other rare birds are far more lucrative contraband, according to a former smuggler and courier for an organized crime ring, who was interviewed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project. There is an international system in place to regulate how rare birds can be traded and transported. Nevertheless it’s easy to move them across borders. Smugglers routinely use fake permits, and re-use the same ones several times. Border officials rarely spot the differences between permits, and they don’t know one bird from another. Because a single bird can be worth as much as $30,000, smugglers don’t care if most of their payload dies en route from the rainforest to the rare bird collectors and supposed conservationists who buy them. According to the interviewee, the enforcement system is full of loopholes, and traffickers make “astronomical” profits.”

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