In a lucrative and hostile underground market, your body is worth much more than you might think. As you can imagine, there are endless wait lists for transplants, blood transfusions, you name it, and where there is demand, there certainly is supply. This article might not be for the faint of heart, just about anything you can imagine is being sold on the ‘shady’ underground market. From wild hunting, ‘prized’ wildlife trophies, to teams of thugs who actually execute missions in which they kidnap someone and harvest their internal organs for sale. If there is some use, or some demand, the underground profitable business model (or lack thereof) has found a way to deliver just about anything to your doorstep— at an inflated price.
The entire notion of taking things from living, breathing things such as exotic wildlife, or even your next-door neighbor, is a stunning and brutal concept. Having said all that, there are some beneficial factors to each of these items, imagine your loved one on a seemingly endless waiting list, desperate for an internal organ, fighting to live. Now imagine being able to have that exact organ delivered to your doorstep overnight, doesn’t seem so bad anymore huh? Without condoning any of these devious acts, merely reporting to the masses what is such a misunderstood concept; the inner-workings and technologies that fuel a money-spinning underground market.
Next time you or someone you know attempt to purchase something from the underground market, remember the offense is punishable by jail time, and a fine of up to $50,000! But for curiosity's sake, let's take a look at 15 things sold on the underground market that once belonged to a living being.
15 Human Blood - $335/pint
Also known as the “Red Market”, searching the web or any other routes for blood seems like something a modern day Dracula would kill for! However this alternative and questionable means to obtain blood seems less than promising. As we all know, there are many types of blood, each generating its own demand on the market, and if someone you know, or even yourself find yourself in need of blood, $335 per pint isn’t such a bad substitute. However unorthodox it may seem, often these transfusions are thought of in life or death circumstances. When stuck between a rock and a hard place, it's easy to see why so many are reverting to an unconventional notion in order to obtain what they need. Blood is often a topic that makes people squirm at the very thought of it, however it is a hot topic in the underground market of things taken from living beings like you and I!
14 Snow Leopard Fur - $1,000/coat
In Afghanistan, the cunning, stealthy Snow Leopard has more to be worried about than being on the verge of extinction. Their coat, a frosty white crossed with a vibrant orange, primed with anvil black, is worth $1,000 USD, however in Afghanistan, this figure represents more money than the average wage an Afghani citizen makes in over a year! In an otherwise saturated market for fur coats in the United States, there’s virtually a never-ending market for such luxuries overseas, and at the price point of what you would make in a year, it seems that motivation to illegally poach and hunt down these beautiful creatures, seems to be only increasing rather than decreasing. Not only the fur, but the skull, the meat, the claws, almost everything is harvested and sold, making the graceful yet fierce animal, even more at risk to be killed for money.
13 Ivory/Elephant Tusk - $3,000/kilogram
One of the most tragic yet profitable items on this list falls at the feet of our beloved African mammal, the Elephant. Around 100 elephants are illegally poached and killed every day in Africa; a staggering statistic, even more so when you take into account that the elephant is often left without tusks, and robbed of its life at a much too early age. So far, an estimated number ballparks the Elephant population at almost half of what it was decades ago. At $3,000 per kilogram, the demand seems to only be increasing. Ivory is used for a variety of things, including dentures, musical instruments, billiard balls, and even the whites in the eyes of statues. No matter what the use, a devastating reality is the slaughtering and illegal poaching of these beautiful creatures for superficial purposes.
12 Pangolin Scales - $3,000/kilogram
Pangolin scales, which are used for medicinal purposes, can cost about $3,000 per kilogram. The Pangolin, which typically weighs anywhere from 80-85 lbs, or 31-38 kilograms, can be harvested completely to roughly $10,000 per animal! Add in the scales and you could be looking at a substantial payday. Cambodia, seized over 3,500 animals in 2014, and arrested 125 poachers illegally killing these animals. Authorities have said that seizures have declined, however they say the reason is because of a decline in the Pangolin population as a whole; so it isn't exactly good news. The pangolin rests near the top when it comes to exotic meats, and they dominate the exotic meat trade. In Vietnam and Cambodia, they’re considered a delicacy and thus, the price for their life has skyrocketed.
11 Sperm - $5,000/sample
This vital ingredient in baby-making lands in our 'top fifteen' list for good reason, as erectile dysfunction and impotency continue to plague far too many men and families across the globe, it's not too hard to wrap your head around the idea of sperm swimming its way across the landscape of the underground market. At $5,000 per sample, it’s relatively pricy, however the alternative of using a sperm bank can prove even more so. Anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 is the estimated final cost of using the legal route, naturally the underground market undercuts the legal route and provides similar services for half the cost. All of these items on here are typically obtained at under the market value for locating it legally, but as most items on here, can come with a certain amount of ‘shady’ dealings.
10 Polar Bear Skins - $10,000/coat
Coming from an animal that’s already flirted with extinction once, the polar bear has been faced with another steep problem. It’s no secret that the lifestyles of the rich and famous enjoy mink coats, among other types. The polar bear is no exception, in order to save them, it would require legislative and practical measures, and something most people just don’t care enough about. When there is money, there is always someone willing to provide a service, even when that service is the illegal poaching and skinning of these beautiful animals. At roughly $10,000 per coat, the demand for polar bear trade on the black market reportedly hasn’t diminished, and the costs are said to be going up with the devastating statistics to the species' whispers of extinction moving forward. It seems global warming, and the melting of the ice caps at the poles might prove to be less of a worry than that of human interruption.
9 Corneas/Eyeballs - $15,000/eyeball
You read that right, eyeballs and corneas actually necessitate a high demand on the underground market. In a shocking and disturbing movement, Chinese citizens have found it downright dangerous; ‘organ harvesters’ have reportedly gouged out children’s eyeballs just to sell them for a profit! There have been numerous reports of Chinese families finding their loved ones drugged (if they’re lucky) and in unbelievable pain, not to mention they cannot see a thing. There are a reported 300,000 people waiting for transplants, and only about 10,000 of them per year receive the organ they need. While the actual eyeball cannot be transplanted, the corneas themselves can, proving why it’s such a costly maneuver for patients and victims, truly disturbing to think about. “At the low cost of just $15,000, you or your loved ones can have a cornea near you!”. Doesn’t sound so good, does it?
8 Rhino Horns - $65,000/kilogram
Just when you thought you were safe, now even the armed, stacked, and brutally horned beast of the rhino has been targeted as a hot commodity on the underground market. In 2012, 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone, that’s one every 13 hours! This is not the only time that rhinos have been staring adversity head on, poaching has always been a fierce adversary for rhinos, and the demand doesn’t seem to be weakening. In Vietnam, a growing and thriving economy has reportedly been using rhino horns as a display of wealth. Although they are typically used to show power or status, the most cost effective use of the horns is in medicine. Most medicine in South Korea over the counter came from rhino-based production, typically proposed by doctors in the medical field and applied directly and on site to the patient. With a culture and society dependent on medication, unfortunately, it appears the rhinos are going to be running for their lives.
7 Human Kidneys - $200,000/organ
The most common transplant between humans in the world comes from the internal organ, the kidney. A hot topic and widely known by most, that the underground market is where you can go to find that organ you desperately need to live. It has provoked a wide variety of crime, including ‘organ harvesting’, where victims are drugged and kidnapped, only to wake up and find that their kidneys or other organs have been surgically removed from them. The kidney, is the most controversial because unlike most other organs, you have two, and you can live with only one of them. Spiking the crime filter into the topic, people have found a way to earn a hefty payday, and still keep you living and breathing (for now). It is without a doubt a criminal and absolutely shocking reality, that humans now have to watch out for people plotting to steal their internal organs! Interestingly, this puts us in the shoes of every animal on this list.
6 Snake Venom - $215,000/liter
At first glance, snake venom seems to be something maybe only Indiana Jones would be intrigued to find amidst the plethora of assorted goods in the underground market. However, it is actually more in Bill Nye's (The Science Guy) playing field; in fact, it takes a highly skilled scientist, as well as highly expensive gear to properly extract all of the venom appropriately. You may ask yourself, just what exactly can snake venom be good for, and why is it so expensive? In fact, snake venom is very handy when attempting to treat cancers of all kinds; it possesses a unique quantity of both toxicity and Crotoxin, which is a valuable mix in the cancer fighting process.
5 Bear Gallbladder - $220,000/pound
While there reportedly isn’t much of a market in the United States for bear bile, otherwise known as gall bladder fluid, can go for an unbelievable $220,000 per pound! This bear fluid is worth 4 times its own weight in gold! So just what’s so special about it? It is apparently one of the most valuable pieces of research for future medicine. While the gallbladder itself is connected to the liver on one end, and the small intestine on the other, scientists have applied this fluid to countless trials for future medications. Now why can’t all gallbladders be as affective, you might ask? Well, the bear does that little thing called hibernation, and because of these 3-8 months of hibernation per year; it allows the gallbladder fluid to concentrate a high amount of Ursodeoxyholic, which is extremely valuable to the scientific world.
4 Totaoboa Fish Bladder - $250,000/organ
This species of fish is actually close to being considered extinct, which only drives the price for this funky looking fish's organ. The Chinese believe that this guy's bladder is rich in collagen, helping smooth human skin and used in skin treatments all over the world. It also has been used to help joint pains, as well as several bone applications and treatments. Oddly enough, this fish has another use, quite another use indeed. In Mexico, they use these fish bladders to transport large amounts of cocaine. They stuff these fish with vials filled with pure cocaine, and send thousands of fish overseas, stockpiled with their drugs. Since the recognition of this unorthodox yet fascinating transportation method, these fish have become incredibly harder to come by, they’re under heavy watch at all times.
3 Human Lungs - $312,000/organ
If you haven’t figured it out by now, your body is worth much more than you might have thought. Lungs are incredibly valuable on the underground market, and for good reason. Lung and heart transplants are incredibly intense surgeries, and the wait list for such organs can last a lifetime; literally. Like most other things found on this list, lungs provide similar value as most others, when you have only one option, find an organ or die, why not take the risk? With little to lose when it comes to quality of life, the lucrative industry has found yet another means to provide incredibly costly services to people with little to no other options. At $312,000 the lung comes at a swift and costly price. Remember the phrase, “It will cost you an arm and a leg?”, perhaps more literally, this organ will cost you a lung or a kidney!
2 Human Livers - $600,000/organ
Put down the alcoholic beverage while you can; your liver might be able to land you more than half a million dollars! Just kidding, well actually, technically it could. The liver is another highly demanded organ on a wait list, at 6,000 liver transplants a year, and over 11,000 people left hanging every year waiting for an organ. In most cases, these online organs go to the highest bidder, that’s right, these organs are being bid on and there’s no cap for how high they can be sold for. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, the criminals operating these underground markets will go through an avenue necessary to sell these organs for the highest price. In most cases, families or even individuals stuck in the predicament of using alternative means to obtain their organ, don’t have much of a choice, and these criminals are aware of that, and plan to extort them for all they can get.
1 Heart - $997,000/organ
No surprise, as all other organs have already topped our charts, the heart should be no revelation as it tops our charts of organs for sale. At almost a million dollars, these tickers come at a pretty penny. Roughly 2,000-3,000 heart transplants happen annually, and a reported 122,000 people are waiting each year! The heart, often coming with the most severe of medical cases, pushes people to take drastic measures in order to survive. The heart, for obvious reasons, is the key to life, and 122,000 people each year find themselves on a hide and seek game show trying to track down that little organ that is in charge of everything going on in their bodies. Hearts are incredibly hard to come by, and understandably, they come with the heftiest price.
Sources: huffingtonpost.com, dailymail.co.uk, medicaldaily.com, decodescience.org
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