The main factor driving this crime is the growth of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

The techniques for violation are the obvious ones: claim the material is part of that permitted for essentials; bribe Customs inspectors; smuggle via Mexico using any of the thousands of trucks rolling across the border; hide the gas cylinders inside other, larger cylinders with benign markings; interchange containers in ports; mislabel the material as similar but legal chemicals (e.g., propane or HCFCs); add nitrogen to raise the pressure and mimic HCFC on the test instruments; or adulterate with a touch of water vapour and pass them off as “recycled.”

Poachers are typically paid in cash

From point of production to final sale inside North America, the black market CFCs are marketed through an underground network that is embedded inside the legal business structure. It runs from developing country manufacturer to international chemical broker to legal exporter to smuggler to illegal importer to legal distributor to retailer. That last link in the chain is often a service station owner or an auto parts shopkeeper who might not even be aware of the illegal origins of the product.

CFC trafficking in both Canada and the USA falls into the category of market-based crimes a restricted and/or banned good is imported with intent to make use of it or to sell it with full knowledge that it is prohibited. True, in some respects, the offence seems to fit the commercial category it appears to occur in a normal business context, and most transactions are settled in normal banking instruments. Nonetheless, it is an offence in which there is no force or fraud, except with respect to false customs declaration, and transfers take place on a strictly volitional basis. Furthermore, as with things like illicit jewellery sales evading the excise tax, the distinction between underground network and legitimate business context is not really important they are one and the same.

3.6 Trafficking in Bear Gall Bladders

Bears are the only significant mammal producers of ursodeoxycholic acid used (and of proven efficacy) for treating a wide range of ailments. In addition, bear paw is regarded in the Orient as a delicacy and an aphrodisiac. As the numbers and wealth of potential consumers soars (TCM is also the basis of local medical practice across much of Asia outside of China), the worlds bear population, perhaps a million, cannot support it. With the Asian black bear hunted to near extinction, pressure is growing on North American species.

Poaching of bears in Canada takes place in and through a jurisdictional maze. Each province regulates its own wildlife some ban bear hunting and trading in parts; others permit hunting, but not trading in parts; others permit both under restriction. The federal government also has rules for trade in wildlife outside of a province. Then there are international treaties, specifically the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which lists North American bears as an Article II species, not endangered but potentially so and therefore tradable only with a CITES permit. This jumble of often contradictory regulations and laws provides an excellent means for those intent on violation to find a way of falling through the cracks.

The chain begins with hunting. It is legal with strict quantity limits in most provinces. Hunters attitudes towards animal parts vary some regard it as an insult to the dead animal to rip off paws and tear out gall bladders; others use them to finance an expensive hobby, usually turning them over to outfitters; while others use them to tip their guides. Poachers are different. Unlike legal hunters, who almost exclusively target mature males, poachers target all of the population because, alas for bears, the size of their gall bladders bears no relationship to their age or sex rather it reflects such factors as diet. Typically, poachers target bears in the spring, when they are hungry and sluggish from hibernation, and they attract the bears with food-baited traps.


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