Profepa agent with totoaba swim bladders. Profepa agent with totoaba swim bladders.

Canceled flight leaves bags with contraband

Swim bladders abandoned on Tijuana airport baggage carousel

Unclaimed suitcases on a baggage carousel at the Tijuana airport turned out to contain contraband: an estimated US $370,000 worth of totoaba swim bladders.

The 375 bladders, weighing 26 kilograms, were discovered in four suitcases that were en route from Mexico City to Shanghai, China, said the environmental protection agency Profepa.

The flight had been scheduled to stop in Tijuana but was canceled by the airline after it arrived. Bags were removed from the aircraft and all but six were claimed, four of which were carrying the 25 to 30-centimeter-long bladders that are a delicacy in Asia.

But they come from a fish that is endangered. Like the vaquita marina, also endangered, the totoaba is native to the upper Sea of Cortés and catching them is illegal.

The Federal Penal Code calls for up to nine years in prison and 225,000 pesos in fines for trafficking, capturing, possession or transportation of protected species.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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