Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

"Cartel del Mar" Wins, PROFEPA Impotent, Vaquita and Totoaba: the Ultimate Losers

"Yaqui" for Borderland Beat

Note to readers: This not a joke! The government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) analyzes reducing protected area for the Vaquita Marina Porpoise.

The Government of Mexico reported Saturday that it is considering reducing the area of ​​protection for the Vaquita Porpoise in the upper Gulf of California, an apparent admission that the tiny porpoise may never return to its full historical range.

The measure would cut off the area where gill-nets are banned to protect the world's most threatened marine mammal. It is estimated that there are only 10 Vaquitas in the Gulf, "El Golfo", also known as the Sea of ​​Cortez (or my personal preference, The Vermillion Sea).

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) said that the drop in the number of vaquitas and the area where they have been seen in recent years justifies reducing the protection zone, which currently covers most of the Upper Gulf. The area begins around the Colorado River delta and extends south past the fishing town of San Felipe and near Puerto Peñasco.

"The possibility of modifying the prohibition area for gill-nets is being studied," the agency said in a statement. "Enough technical studies have been conducted to indicate a possible reduction in the area," he added.

The secretariat added that the change will be discussed by a group that includes fishermen, the public and authorities, and said formal proposals could be presented in March.

The ban on nets has angered fishermen, who frequently set up illegal nets to catch Totoaba, another endangered species. Vaquitas are often trapped in nets set up for Totoaba, whose swim bladder is considered a delicacy in China and carries prices of thousands of dollars per kilogram.

Fishermen have staged angry protests and attacked boats from the environmental group the Sea Shepherd, which are removing illegal nets in the smaller area where Vaquitas have been sighted in recent years. 

The main center of conflict is the port town of San Felipe, Baja, California; where ongoing eruptions of violence have marred the work of saving the Vaquitas and the economy of that the fishermen, or "pescadores furvitos" ie, poachers, who defy the fishing regulations to catch the Totoaba fish for their extremely valuable swim bladders. 

They butcher the fish on board their pangas, throw the entire fish, meat and carcass, overboard and attempt to hide the bladders for drying, bring them to shore and sell them at exhorbinant prices on the black market; thus the name " Cocaine of the Sea".

Alex Olivera, Mexico representative of the Center for Biological Diversity, warned that reducing the protected area could affect the evident small population of Vaquitas that remain.

“Reducing the polygon also means shortening the living space of the vaquita porpoise, and of course this species is not found in a corral, that is, it lives in the marine environment, and with this it means as soon as it leaves the polygon, they can face gill-nets, which are a threat, if not lethal ”, Olivera explained. 

Without resources or strategy, Profepa faces extinction of Vaquita Marina:

In reports to which Excelsior had access, it is clear that the little budget that the institution has is used in an inappropriate way, in improvised actions, which do not yield any results.

The null results in the protection of the Vaquita porpoise and the fight against the illegal traffic of Totoaba fish bladders, include the lack of resources, planning, logistics and lack of knowledge of high commanders of the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa).

The above occurred from November to December 2020, in the middle of the shrimp season in the Upper Gulf of California, when an operation was mounted with the presence of 19 federal inspectors who arrived in support from the delegations of Sinaloa, Nayarit, Tabasco, City of Mexico and the Metropolitan Area of ​​the Valley of Mexico.

Despite the fact that there were sufficient personnel to inhibit illicit conduct, the seizure of any smaller vessel was not achieved, nor was the seizure of protected species or arrests of people or made available to the Federal Public Ministry.

Only two gill-nets and some cloths were found on the beaches of fishing grounds, ( or fish camps ) which were taken to warehouses in the naval sector.

In November 2020 alone, the Sea Shepherd organization denounced the presence of 1,185 smaller vessels (pangas) in the “Zero Tolerance Zone” of the Vaquita Marina, where it is forbidden even to transit.

November 11 was the most critical day with 60 pangas present simultaneously in the area where historically the most observations of the world's most endangered marine mammal have been made.

Sea Shepherd released a video showing fishermen shouting, hurling objects and trying to foul the propellors of the M/V Farley Mowat, a Sea Shepherd vessel used in campaigns against illegal fisheries activities. The video also shows the crew on the Farley Mowat using a hose to repel some of the boats.


The vaquita is the world's most endangered marine mammal, with only about a dozen left in their habitat in the Sea of Cortez, according to experts. The porpoises are not directly hunted but get entangled and drown in illegal gill-nets set for capturing totoaba, a large and critically endangered fish that's prized for its swim bladder as a Chinese delicacy.

The fishermen were participating in "obvious illegal poaching" of totoaba, according to a Sea Shepherd press release sent to EcoWatch. The video shows some of the skiffs carrying gill-nets, even though they are banned within the vaquita reserve.

Sea Shepherd said:

The poachers attacked by hurling leadweights, anchors, trash, dead fish and even Tabasco sauce at the vessel and its wheelhouse windows in addition to threatening ship's crew with Molotov cocktails, spraying gasoline at the ship and pouring gas in the sea around the vessel.

Sea Shepherd said that while its vessel was temporarily immobilized after the propeller fouling, five fishermen boarded the ship and looted multiple objects from the deck.

"During the illegal boarding, the Sea Shepherd crew was able to keep the poachers from entering into the ship, and used an emergency firehose to repel the boarders, while waiting for naval forces to arrive," the press release said. "At this time a Mexican Naval Helicopter made several passes above the scene and the skiffs began to disperse."

The vessel's captain was eventually able restart the engines and headed to the port of San Felipe where the ship was met by the regional Navy Commander and reinforcements, according to Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd conducts maritime patrols inside the vaquita refuge and had recovered three illegal gill-nets in the morning before the attack. The group's operations are conducted with the knowledge and cooperation of the Mexican government to help detect illegal fishing activities, the Associated Press noted.

Captain Paul Watson, founder and CEO of Sea Shepherd, said his organization "will not be deterred by violence."

"Our mission is to prevent the extinction of the vaquita porpoise and we will continue to seize the nets of poachers in the Vaquita Refuge," he said in the press release. "Sea Shepherd salutes the quick responsiveness of the Mexican Navy in defusing a dangerous situation."

During the entire time that the commission lasted, only two days, Profepa did not use its Boston-Whaler type boats - which had already replaced by insurance after they were burned by "totoaberos" in March 2019 - because there was not enough money for fuel. 

See BB Archives for my Post on this and other posts in my series entitled "Cocaine of the Sea."

The then coordinator in San Felipe, Baja California, whose contract was no longer renewed for this year, sent personnel to the military checkpoint called "El Chinero", on the highway to Mexicali, to cover three shifts, even though the Secretary of the National Defense (Sedena), has sufficient elements to carry out the revisions to the vehicles that travel on the road. The Soldiers "look" and/ or inspect any suspect vehicles heading North for the totoaba bladders and all other illegal contraband.

The maritime tours, which the inspectors had to do in the interceptor patrols and Defender-type units of the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar), consisted exclusively of providing perimeter security to the two ships of the Sea Shepherd organization, which are in charge of taking out “nets ghost ”of the sea.

In general, there are no conditions for the work of Profepa staff, because in addition the property and the offices where they operated in San Felipe, Baja California and the Gulf of Santa Clara, Sonora, were also burned by poachers between 2018 and 2019.

Regular BB readers may remember this infamous day in San Felipe, BC when the fishermen aka poachers ended up having a standoff with the Military and began an attack on the Profepa Facility at the San Felipe pier, they broke down the chain link fence and began dragging their confiscated boats and other equipment out of the parking area. General mayhem ensued, a fire was set to the Profepa Patrol boats that ultimately burned the entire facility to the ground and many of the boats left in the storage area. 

To date, there are also no 4x4 trucks to make trips on the beach and be able to tow boats, or beach palapas and / or plywood shacks, where they spend the night to continue with their activities the next day. 

After two and a half years, the Government of Mexico met Friday, February 26, with fishermen and the productive sector of the Upper Gulf of California, at the State Center for the Arts of Mexicali.

The objective is to finally define budgets, programs and concrete actions to increase security and promote economic development in the region.

Participating in the meeting will be María Luisa Albores, head of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat); Víctor Manuel Villalobos, head of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader), and Admiral Luis Javier Robinson Portillo, next chief of the General Staff of the Navy, due to the fact that José Rafael Ojeda, head of the Secretary of the Navy (Semar ), recovers from Covid-19.

The agenda includes words from the governor of Sonora, Claudia Pavlovich and the governor of Baja California, Jaime Bonilla, in addition to giving space to listen to civil society, the fishing sector, the legislature and academics.

On Saturday February 27, the holders of Semarnat and Sader, as well as the representative of Semar, visited San Felipe, Baja California and the Gulf of Santa Clara, Sonora.

In this regard, leaders of fishermen's cooperatives called on the authorities to visit the communities and listen to the demands of the families, with the certainty that everything will be done in an atmosphere of cordiality and respect, guaranteeing the safety of the community. retinue.

They pointed out that it is only fair that the secretaries of state know from the inhabitants, without intermediaries, the situation that prevails in the Upper Gulf of California and together they find solutions.

The leader of fishermen and former president of the Confederation of Ribereña Fishing Cooperatives in San Felipe, Sunshine Antonio Rodríguez Peña, was arrested this past November at dawn at his home during a search carried out by federal agents and elements of the Navy .

The charges for which they are allegedly accused are organized crime, in the form of money laundering, although the FGR has not publicly confirmed this.

It is unknown if they will face other charges related to illegal fishing or against biodiversity. 

A control judge linked the alleged leader of  the "Cartel del Mar",  Sunshine Antonio Rodríguez Peña, "El Güero" , and five of his alleged accomplices, to  organized crime , with the purpose of committing crimes against the environment.

Rodríguez Peña, identified by the authorities as the main supplier of Totoaba Bladders , whose kilo in the illegal market can cost $100,000 dollars, to networks of traffickers, was arrested at dawn on November 11 at his home, in San Felipe, Baja California, by elements of the  Attorney General's Office (FGR) .

The FGR reported that after the investigation carried out in coordination with the National Intelligence Center (CNI), the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF), Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), it was possible to know the organizational structure and modus operandi of Rodríguez Peña and his five accomplices.

He indicated that in the end the "Cartel del Mar", a transnational criminal organization, is  trafficking in the species of aquatic wildlife  called Totoaba Macdonaldi, which is endemic, which is why it is subject to special protection and regulated in an international treaty of the that Mexico is part.

The Attorney General's Office indicated that in June 2020, the District Judge Specialized in the Accusatory Criminal System of the Federal Criminal Justice Center in the state of Sonora, issued an arrest warrant against Sunshine Antonio Rodríguez Peña, “Güero”; Enrique García Sandez, "Kiki"; Álvaro de Jesús Ramos Sillas, “Varito”; Gastón Eduardo Parra Aispuro; Juan Luis García Ruíz, “Yegua”; Segundo Valenzuela Gaeta, "Segundo", who were detained in the Hermosillo federal prison.

The defense of the accused requested the duplicity of the term so that the Control judge could resolve their legal situation.

Therefore, following the hearing, an order was issued to link to the process for the crime of organized crime with the purpose of committing crimes against the environment, granting two months of complementary investigation.

Sources: Oronegro / Excelsior /Dossierpolitico / agpnotis / EcoWatch

Further reading: For Spanish readers, excellent but long PDF on the subject: Hooked


  1. Sunshine was his first name? The guy was probably bullied in school 😂

  2. "What a piece of work is man"
    Arrogant and debased we will never learn,then its to late.
    We need to hear of our glorious efforts at saving the enviroment,glorious lip service
    "Yaqui" thanks for letting us know,dont slow ye roll girl

  3. What do these assholes think they're gonna do after they kill off all the vaquita?

    1. They are poaching the TOTABA FISH for their swim bladders.......the last remaining Vaquita porpoises are just by catch.

  4. Your the man Amlo

    1. Worst president in Mexico's history

    2. 11:18 you are full of shit,
      Worst is carlos salinas de gortari, then FECAL and EPN.
      WASH YOUR MOUTH before badmouthing AMLO, he is your daddy...
      Vaquitas are also being M used as an excuse to steal california peninsula.

  5. On the tv episode where the sea shepherd was assisted by the Mexican navy on catching the poachers, it clearly demonstrated the typical Mexican mentality. “Aquí no pasa nada” just turn the other way and it will go away. The navy was running in the opposite direction of the poachers while being guided by a military spy drone. They looked like a bunch of idiots. They’re on the cartel payroll! And el Indio Lopez cobrador must think that we should be living off the land and why protect it. Abuse at all cost. Mexico is also lucky there’s fish in the sea. They dump all of their sewer right in to the ocean. Do they even have any sewer treatment plants?

    1. Judging by your statement, I take it you don't live in Mexico. If you really want to make a difference you should move out there and become an activist.

    2. Why not destroy the poachers boats on land?
      Then on the water you can get their nets, facking sea shepherd does not have any teeth and their skulls should reflect it.

  6. Thorough read! The Chinese eat anything that moves.

    Canadian girl 💋

    1. 12:30 the bladders are not moving by the time they get to the buffet.
      Most tastiest bladder:
      Bladdermir Putin, according to world class connoissieurs...

  7. Wish you would put this story in Breitbart and in the title have Hollywood actors etc CALIF animal rights people know more about this
    keep this story Alive
    Maybe they can pay the fishermen so they Stop hurting these poor porpoises

    1. 7:37 breitbart is too busy promoting other big buck making lies

  8. Do you know that I just heard on TV news that 30-50% of the seafood consumed in the US is POACHED, ie from all over the world. Just unbelievable , I am gonna check into this !

    1. On the US, most favorite dish:
      El que huele a fish,
      pero sabe a pollo.

  9. Pinche AMLO vale pa pura riata.

    1. 1:01 federalista narco-governors of the past and the present, PRIISTAS, ANTORCHISTAS, PANISTAS, PANALISTAS, PRD, prensa chayotera, payasobrozos, televisa, teleazteca, loret de moolah, la gilbertona, el bronco al que le van a mochar las patas por ratero...le andan pelando la riata a AMLO, que es su mero padre, porque la gente lo apoya y aunque la cague, la oposición se traga la buñiga.


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;