Written by MARC LACEY for the New York Times
Dec. 30, 2010 — Found tottering alone in the desert with their ribs visible and their heads hung low, horses play a backbreaking, unappreciated role in the multibillion-dollar drug smuggling industry.
Mexican traffickers strap heavy bales of marijuana or other illegal drugs to the horses’ backs and march them north through mountain passes and across rough desert terrain. With little food and water, some collapse under their heavy loads. Others are turned loose when the contraband gets far enough into Arizona to be loaded into vehicles with more horsepower.
“We would pick up 15 to 20 horses a month, and many more of the animals would get past us,” said Brad Cowan, who spent 28 years as a livestock officer for the Arizona Department of Agriculture before retiring a few months back. “They wear poorly fitted equipment. It’s obvious they were not well taken care of. The makeshift saddles rub big sores in their backs.”
Even once rescued, the horses face an uncertain future. Since they are not from the United States, the state of Arizona must draw their blood and conduct a battery of tests to ensure that they do not carry any disease that would infect domestic livestock. Then the horses head to auction, where some are bought and shipped back to Mexico for slaughter.
Others are luckier. They find their way to equine rescue operations, which help place them with homes. Read full report >>
1 thought on “Abandoned Horses Are Latest Toll of Drug Trade”
I have an idea that might help the wonderful (licensed?) rescues that save these poor horses. Arizona legalized medical marijuana last year. Whenever AZ law enforcement seizes MJ, instead of sending it “up in smoke”, give it to licensed dealers in return for a share of the profits, and turn at least part of that money over to the horse rescues.