The illegal wildlife trade is one of the most profitable illegal industries in the world, only behind the trafficking of drugs, guns, and humans. Because of the relative ease in poaching wildlife combined with the possibility of high profit margins, many assume that organized crime is heavily linked to the trade. One group of species that is poached, trafficked and sold in illicit markets throughout the world are parrots. While some have claimed organized crime groups are involved in the trade, parrot experts contend there is no evidence of organized crime being involved. The purpose of this paper is to examine the structural organization of the illegal parrot trade in the neotropics to determine if the trade is driven by organized crime or if it is a simply a crime that is organized. The following study is based on 38 interviews with parrot poachers, middlemen, wildlife market sellers, and others knowledgeable on the trade in multiple cities within Bolivia and Peru to better understand the organization of the trade. The results garnered from these interviews do not support the notion that organized crime is involved in the illegal parrot trade in either country. The vast majority of participants are freelance operators where there appears to be no formal organization between or amongst those operating in the parrot trade. Implications of findings are discussed.
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The species mentioned by participants include: Yellow-chevroned parakeet (Brotogeris chiriri); Green-cheeked parakeet (Pyrrhura molinae); Dusky-headed parakeet (Aratinga weddellii); Peach-fronted parakeet (Eupsittula aurea); Chestnut-fronted macaw (Ara severa); Cobalt-winged parakeet (Brotogeris cyanoptera); Blue-headed parrot (Pionus menstruus); Mitred parakeet (Psittacara mitratus); Turquoise-fronted parrot (Amazona aestiva); Blue-winged parrotlet (Forpus xanthopterygius); and Monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus).
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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Human and animals studies
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
This study was not funded.
Conflict of interest
The authors – Stephen Pires, Jacqueline Schneider, Mauricio Herrera - declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Pires, S.F., Schneider, J.L. & Herrera, M. Organized crime or crime that is organized? The parrot trade in the neotropics. Trends Organ Crim 19, 4–20 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-015-9259-7
- Conservation criminology
- Wildlife crime
- Organizational structure
- Crime prevention