by Pa Rock
Old friend and young grandfather, Michael Box, from the state of Kansas, posted a reply to my article yesterday regarding the growing theft of the giant Saguaro cacti from the deserts of Arizona. What this former resident of the Valley of Hell had to say explains why this criminal enterprise is so lucrative. According to Michael:
Illegal saguaro's sell for up to $50 a foot plus an additional $100 per arm. The prized crested plants can go for $15,000 or more.
Stealing these plants violate both Arizona and Federal law. The Arizona law appears to be regulatory in nature. The Federal Lacey Act is not. There you get felony convictions and big fines.
The saguaro can live 150 to 175 years, weigh up to 7 tons, and be taken in as little as 15 minutes.
So, let's do the math: gas for two trucks (-$20), wages for four undocumented workers for a couple of hours each (-$100), and a quick sale of four of these desert guardians (+$20,000 or more) - yep, that beats holding down a real job!
Michael did include this note of caution:
Only a fool will wander into the Sonoran Desert at night when the rattlers rule. But the risk of a fatal snake bite is out-weighed by the lure of profit.
This is one instance when I'm rooting for the snakes!