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Cocaine Fish Called Totoaba

Updated on May 23, 2016
The bladder
The bladder

China is hungry for world’s resources for its billions of people. They want everything and building a military to ensure they get it. Now, they want the rare Totoaba fish so bad that the creature has been coined, the aquatic cocaine fish. No, its not because the fish when eaten will give you that high like coke but it is for its bladder. Yes, you read this right- fish bladder. The Chinese consume this in soup for medicinal purposes and for a mythical “fountain of youth”, that they believe the bladder provides. The Chinese have turned to this fish because they have exhausted their own, called Yellow Croaker, which was highly prized for its bladder.

The fish bladder is sought after as much as is cocaine and as expensive. Mexican border patrol recently intercepted about 40 kilos (around 25 lbs.) of 125 fish bladders in black plastic bags rolled up inside a tire at San Felipe. When officials opened the bags, which they thought was cocaine, the stench was overwhelming. Had these fish bladders arrived in Hong Kong via L.A., the street value would be $750,000. One bladder sells for $7-14,000. Chinese culture has long believed fish bladder is rich in collagen, improving skin texture and maintaining youthful-looking skin. But the funny thing about this belief is that the poacher caught has been eating this fish all his life and does not seem to be the Fountain of Youth. He looks his age.

This fish is endangered since the 1970’s. They are found only in Baja, California, and Sea of Cortez. The fish lives in a 400 mile coastline area protected by the Mexican military and fishing is illegal. The military flies twice a day over the area, while on land, checkpoints with drug-sniffing dogs, inspect 250 cars. On the water, six naval boats patrol. Yet, poachers manage to evade all this by fishing at night.

In 2013, Mexican officials seized $2.25 million worth of bladders and soup containing this fish may sell for as high as $25000. Jason Xie, 49, of Sacramento was accused last year of taking delivery of 169 bladders on March 30, 2013, in a hotel parking lot in Calexico, about 120 miles east of San Diego. Xie told investigators he was paid $1,500 to $1,800 for each of 100 bladders. The fish has now caught the attention of Mexican drug cartels that supply the real cocaine.


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