U.S. wildlife investigators recently broke up an international rhinoceros smuggling ring that could save animals
from being pawns in what has been an extremely lucrative trade, The Associated Press
The horns of rhinos are sold for sky-high prices on the black market in Vietnam and China, where they are traditionally used in cancer-curing medications, the Los Angeles Times
reports. Now, federal investigators have raided homes and businesses and made three arrests in Southern California of alleged traffickers taking part in the inhumane trade.
"By taking out this ring of rhino horn traffickers, we have shut down a major source of black market horn and dealt a serious blow to rhino horn smuggling both in the U.S. and globally," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe told the publication.
The demand for rhino horns has led to an increase in poaching in Africa and burglaries in European museums by organized criminals. African herds have declined by 90 percent since the 1970s, and both black and white varieties are extinct in the wild or critically endangered. Americans are also taking part in the decimation of the species, illegally transporting the horns from antique shops and other locations to get a cut of the final price of the horns, which is more than crack, heroin or gold, pound for pound, World Wildlife Fund officials told the news outlet.