More than 16,000 dried seahorses which were to be exported illegally to Asian countries have been seized by police in Peru.
Seahorse powder is used in China, Japan and elsewhere in traditional medicine and for its alleged aphrodisiac uses.
Peruvian authorities say the traffickers ran away and abandoned their illicit cargo on a street in the capital, Lima.
Police chief Victor Fernandez said the cargo could have fetched up to $250,000 abroad.
Seahorse fishing is illegal in Peru, but the high prices paid for seahorse powder abroad make it difficult for the authorities to enforce the ban.
Victor Fernandez said the cargo – three cases weighing 27.5 kg (60 pounds) – was left behind following a police operation near the Lima’s airport.
“They are sent to Asian countries and used as aphrodisiacs. In China this product is also used to cure asthma,” he said.
The marine fish, which finds northern Peru’s warmer waters a perfect breeding ground, is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
But Victor Fernandez said that last year a total of 20 tons of dried seahorses were seized across the world – half a ton in Peru alone.