Traffickers Are Selling Black Market Cacti For Their ‘Rugged’ Look

By Texas Standard

Trafficking along the southern border is a major concern for law enforcement. Trafficking can take many forms, and most are familiar with the trafficking of people and drugs. But recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a report saying it had concluded a major operation to thwart a cactus-trafficking operation in West Texas.

The cactus of choice for traffickers operating in West Texas: living-rock cactus, also known as Ariocarpus fissuratus. (Michael Wolf/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0))

Sara Button reported on the story for The Big Bend Sentinel, and says traffickers steal cacti from private land or from state and national parks.

“There are so many absentee ranch owners out there in this area that the traffickers can go in an bring in small machinery and build their own roads on some of these private properties, and just take out whole populations of these living-rock cacti,” Button says.

She says the cacti are sold on the black market to buyers in Europe and Asia who want exotic plants that have grown in the wild and have a “unique, rugged look.”

Listen to the rest of the story in the player above.

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