Chacalluta launches operation to combat illegal abalone trafficking

The service, which seized over three tons of the mollusks in 2008, will work conjointly with Customs, SAG, as well as the police, and will even make use of a specially-trained detecting dog.

23 de Enero de 2009 | 16:36 | El Mercurio Online

ARICA.-  A Labrador that has spent eight months training for a unique task is the “star official” that the National Fishing Service (SERNAPESCA) will be working with to regulate the Chacalluta border complex as part of a pilot program that aims to combat the large amount of illegal abalone trafficking to Peru.

Unlike the dogs trained to work with Customs and Investigations, “Baster” will not be searching for drugs in the suitcases and vehicles that cross the border. Rather, the pooch has been specifically trained to search for clandestine loads of Chilean abalones known as “locos”.

According to Governor Luis Gutiérrez, the SERNAPESCA operation at the border, which will also include an officer and instructor to accompany the canine, will begin in two weeks. 

Chilean abalones have been classified as an endangered species since 1998.   There is evidence however that suggests there is a large amount the shellfish being illegally transported to Peru, where they are later distributed to canned sea food producers in Tacna. “The mollusks are even sent back to Chile as a processed product”, stated the national SERNAPESCA director, Félix Inojosa.

Employing operations similar to those of drug-trafficking, abalone contraband travels in only one direction: south to north.  The shellfish are hidden in compartments that are created inside the vehicles or sent by way of ships that illegally cross the maritime border.

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