Man tries to smuggle Titi monkeys through Mexico City airport

Titi Monkey

Titi monkeys are endangered but still traded on the black market. Image: Flickr/cliff1066

In the airport in Mexico City, a man was discovered with 18 Titi monkeys strapped to his waist. These monkeys, much like many other endangered species, are traded on the black market for high profit margins. Police in the Mexico City International Airport discovered the Titi monkeys and arrested the smuggler. Had Roberto Zavaleta Sol Cabrera successfully sold the Titi monkeys, he could have made more than $27,000.

Titi monkeys found in Mexico City airport

In the Mexico City International Airport, airport police spotted a man who looked “very nervous.” Roberto Zavaleta Sol Cabrera was “trying to conceal a large lump in his jumpsuit.” This raised the curiosity of police, and they discovered 18 Titi monkeys under his clothes. Stuffed into socks and strapped to his waist, two of the monkeys had already died. Roberto claimed that he had transported the monkeys this way to “protect them from the x-ray scanners.”

About the Titi monkey

The Titi monkey is a tiny monkey native to South America. Between 10 and 22 inches long, the monkeys have long, soft fur. Territorial and familial, the monkeys eat fruits, leaves, flowers, insects, bird eggs and other small creatures. The Titi monkey is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Mexico government also heavily restricts the import of monkeys. Despite these restrictions, trade in primates as pets is big business, especially in Mexico.

The profit of black market animals

Though many animals are either limited or banned in many countries, there is a thriving black market trade. The Titi monkeys found in the Mexico City Airport were purchased for about $30 apiece. If Roberto had managed to sell the monkeys, they would have sold for as much as $1,550 apiece. Had any of the monkeys been sold in the United States, they may have sold for $3,000 or more. The black market trade in animals is very dangerous for the pet buyers and the animals, but is proving very difficult to quash. In 2001, Earth Trends estimated the endangered species trade at $10 billion or more.

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