LIMA — More than 16,000 dried seahorses destined for illegal export to Asia, where the animal is sought for its supposed healing properties, were seized Thursday in Peru's capital Lima, authorities said.
"We managed to seize... 16,280 seahorses destined to be sold illegally on the Asian continent," Colonel Victor Fernandez, from the police unit tasked with confiscating such goods, told AFP.
Police uncovered the cargo, weighing around 160 kilograms (350 pounds), in three cases in a search operation near the airport in the Peruvian capital.
In Asia, particularly in China, South Korea and Japan, the seahorse -- protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) -- is coveted for its alleged medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.
Seahorse powder sells for about $6,000 per kilo, Fernandez said.
Seahorse fishing has been banned in Peru since 2004, and is punishable by two to five years in prison.
Peruvian authorities last year seized a total of two tonnes of seahorses destined for export.