As you head east out of Los Angeles into the Mojave Desert, the landscape grows cruel and unforgiving. It's no place for the faint of heart. And it's certainly no place for a shark.
Last week, neighbors Richard Doornbos and Al Embry were walking through the huge vacant lot across from Sultana High School when they stumbled upon a deadly Leopard Shark baking in the hot sun. It was obvious the shark had been dumped recently.
Judging from the size, the men assumed it wasn't a pet from someone's fish tank. They speculated that perhaps it was caught during a deep sea fishing expedition, then brought home for a swim in the family pool, only to die in the chlorinated fresh water.
But no one who owns a fishing boat would be dumb enough to allow such a thing to happen. It's not worth the danger, hassle or risk. It's far more likely the shark was a pet.
It seems that like the pet alligator grown too big and then dumped in the sewers of New York, this shark was the hapless victim of cruel and stupid people.
The Leopard Shark has been a favorite of poachers for years. They grow slowly, so they stay cute and small for some time. The cache of having a shark for pet is too much for some to resist, apparently. There's a booming black market in Leopard Sharks, with millions of dollars to be made.
In February, the Department of Justice cracked a ring of poachers led by Pastor Kevin Thompson of the Bay Area Family Church, Holy Spirit Association - Unification Worldwide Church in San Leandro.
For ten years, Thompson and his crew had been using church-owned boats to harvest thousands of the sharks from East Bay waters. Over the years they netted more than $1.2 million selling their booty to companies in Miami, Chicago, Houston; Romulus, Michigan; Milford, Connecticut; the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The indictment against the band of crooks charges that approximately 465 juvenile leopard sharks were sold to companies around the world.
Wife took me to this temple to walk around the grounds, very pretty place.
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