Endangered Species Trade Brings Meth Plague to South Africa

Chinese Triad gangs are causing irreparable harm to South Africa's people and its native abalone, an endangered species known in the area as perlemoen. The Triads are smuggling out thousands of pounds of perlemoen in trade for the ingredients to make methamphetamine, called "tik" in South Africa, according to a report this week in The Guardian. The influx of the drug, meanwhile, has driven up crime in Cape Town an amazing 200% and is devastating the social structure of the poorer parts of the city.

I've been following the perlemoen problem for a while now. More than 1 million perlemoen were confiscated from smugglers in 2006. That's probably a tiny percentage of what was illegally harvested from the oceans, and we'll likely see numbers much higher in 2007.

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