The “Totoaba Tzar,” an alleged Baja California gangster with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, was arrested this week by state police.
Oscar Parra Aispuro was traveling with two bodyguards on the Mexicali-San Felipe highway when a months-long investigation ended with his apprehension.
Parra has been identified as the regional leader of a gang dedicated to trafficking drugs and the prized totoaba, an endangered fish whose swim bladder is considered a delicacy in Asia, selling at up to US $14,000 on the black market.
A soup prepared with the organ and served in China can sell for up to $25,000.
Parra was considered one of the priority targets by the state security force Baja California Coordination Group. He also had an outstanding arrest warrant issued late last year in relation to the homicide of a military official.
The three men were carrying seven firearms, a bulletproof vest, communications devices, 482 usable firearm magazines and chargers, and 50 grams of crystal methamphetamine.
The illegal and predatory fishing of totoaba has led to the species’ decline in numbers, while the nets used have caused the near extinction of the vaquita porpoise. Both marine species are only found in the upper Gulf of California, and their disappearance there would mean their complete extinction.
According to a access-to-information report requested by the newspaper El Universal, the number of totoaba seized by federal Attorney General’s office has been on the rise over the last five years.
While in 2013 there were only three seizures, last year there was a record 488. In the first four months of 2018, there have been 79 reported cases, bringing the total between early 2013 and April 2018 to 1,287 secured totoabas.
Source: El Universal (sp)