Plight of drug trade horses

Smuggling Illegal Drugs with Horses
Horses who are used as pack animals by smugglers to carry thousands of pounds of marijuana from Mexico into Arizona, then abandoned and left to die in the desert, are the unrecognized victims of the illegal drug trade. Origin of Photograph Unknown.

When we hear about the “War on Drugs”, how many of us think about horses?

At the Fund for Horses, we occasionally receive emails or hear stories from rescues and sanctuaries about the horses used by the illegal drug trade, then left in the desert to starve to death or die of thirst (and yes, occasionally some of them are Mustangs). However, you rarely if ever hear about these horses in the news or on the internet.

Pat Raia has an interesting article raising much needed awareness for these horses on The Horse. Thank you Pat.

The opening paragraphs tell us:

Some pack horses that smugglers use to carry thousands of pounds of marijuana from Mexico into Arizona are unrecognized victims of the illegal drug trade, according to equine welfare advocates, government officials, and veterinarians who care for the animals.

Each horse carries anywhere from 300 to 400 pounds of marijuana over 70-80 miles of rough terrain between Mexico and the Tucson sector on the Arizona side of the U. S. border, explained Omar Candaleria, public information liaison for the U.S. Customs Service and Boarder Patrol in Tucson.

Calendaria said that typically riders, who also carry marijuana on their horse in bundles attached to their horses , lead strings of horses carrying packs filled with the drugs. Once riders have delivered their drug loads, they cut the pack horses loose and either turn the animals out into the desert or tie them there. Border patrol agents or local authorities discover and impound animals that survive. Most are generally in poor condition, according to Michael Robinson, DVM, the veterinarian who treats the abandoned animals.

Surviving horses are taken into the custody of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, quarantined, tested and treated for parasites and contagious diseases, and put up for sale at public auction or sent to the Desert Spring Equestrian Center in Tuscon who rehabilitate them and find them homes.

Like us, you probably shrink at the mention of any of these horses going to auction where they may be bought by a killer buyer, after which they will make a terrifying journey of no return to a Mexican slaughterhouse.

Yet the Arizona Department of Agriculture are doing the very best they can for the horses abandoned and left in the desert to die by drug smugglers.

“The agents take very good care of their horses,” said Robinson. “Even if it means purchasing whatever they need out of their own pockets.”

Not enough good can be said out these types of heroes for horses.

Read full article here >>

4 thoughts on “Plight of drug trade horses”

  1. Yet another lethal and inhumane consequence of unjust and impractical drug prohibition.

    “Drug dealers have no shame”; true, but pharmacists do…


  2. I would love to have the drug dealers lug the drugs for miles, no food, no water. Left in the desert to perish. Or what if the drug dealers had to endure being slaughtered. Drug dealers have no shame. I am glad that some of the horses are rescued (and not by the kill buyers).


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