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Another capture of illegal traders of dolphin meat

Source - Mundo Azul

3rd June 2003

Callao, Peru: Private investigators of the Peruvian NGO Mundo Azul and the National Police of Peru captured yesterday two traders of illegal dolphin meat in Callao, Peru.

Acting under constant threats and insult from bystanders, private investigators of the Peruvian NGO Mundo Azul and police officers from the Department for Ecological Crimes managed yesterday to capture two men trying to illegally sell cetacean meat and Peruvian boobies for human consumption in a market in the harbour city of Callao, neighbouring Peru's capital Lima. Mundo Azul is an organisation that is dedicated to the conservation of marine and coastal species and ecosystems

Mundo Azul’s private investigators kept two suspects, Rafael Zapata Sanginez and Nicanor Espinoza Albino, under observation for several days. Sanginez, aged 48, and Albino, aged 56, were caught offering 35 kilograms and 8 kilograms of dolphin meat respectively. Albino was also offering five slaughtered Peruvian boobies for sale.

The capture of dolphins and porpoises, as well as the sale and consumption of their meat has been prohibited since 1996 by Peruvian law. Boobies are also protected by law. Mundo Azul has initiated a national campaign for the conservation of cetaceans, implementing volunteer based environmental education campaigns in public schools, training seminars for local leaders of fishermen’s associations, journalists and governmental representatives as well as police and coastguard officers.

The organisation works in close cooperation with the Department for Environment, the Peruvian Coast Guard and with the Peruvian National Police’s Department for Ecological Crimes.

The new capture in Callao brings the total number of illegal dealers caught by Mundo Azul and the "Ecological Police" to 6. Another success was the capture of a fishing boat attempting to land a dead common dolphin in the fishing port of Salaverry. Up till now a total of 107 kilograms of cetacean meat, an entire common dolphin and five slaughtered Peruvian boobies have been seized during the combined operations. Mundo Azul´s efforts to prevent illegal dolphin killings, and to rid the coast of illegal dealers and fishermen will continue. Those caught will face maximum punishment of up to three years in jail.

Based on the findings during Mundo Azul´s investigation, it is estimated that as many as 3000 or more dolphins are being caught for illegal consumption in Peru every year.

"This recent case shows again, that illegal trade in cetacean meat is not an exceptional event in isolated provincial regions, but a common crime even within the country’s capital. Callao is one of the biggest markets for this kind of illegal product and one of the most dangerous to investigate is", said Stefan Austermühle, Executive Director of Mundo Azul.

“The Department for Ecological Crimes does not have the financial resources to act against the illegal trade of cetacean meat. We do not have a budget for intelligence work; we have only one patrol car, and have run out of gasoline many times", said Carlos Herrera Gonzales, Director of the Division for Ecological Crimes of the National Police of Peru. When describing the problems of the Ecological Police, he added, "It is only thanks to the intelligence provided by Mundo Azul’s investigators, as well as the transportation and financial help provided by Mundo Azul, that we are able to capture illegal dealers of dolphin meat. We hope that Mundo Azul will be able to continue their activities and support for the police; we remain very committed to co-operation with Mundo Azul."

Additional information as well as photographs and video material documenting the activities and the latest capture can be obtained from:

Stefan Austermühle
Executive Director of Mundo Azul
Manuel A Fuentes 884 C
Lima - San Isidro
Phone: 0051-1-421 66 85
Portable phone: 0051-1-997 555 91



Photographs © Mundo Azul