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In this Aug.1, 2010 file photo, a greater one horned rhino eats water plants from a river in Janakauli community forest bordering Chitwan National Park, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Katmandu, Nepal.  (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)

Wildlife trafficking is a $23 billion industry. This crime family is at its center.

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An exclusive investigation by The Guardian has revealed two Vietnamese brothers as the ringleaders in a smuggling route for the booming $23 billion wildlife trafficking industry.

The Bach brothers -- 38-year-old Bach Mai and 45-year-old Bach Van Limh -- run a key smuggling route for traders and poachers to send parts of animals that locals believe are lucky or part of traditional methods. 

The data came from Freeland, an anti-trafficking group that kept data secret but opened up after nations failed to hinder trafficking sufficiently.

In this Aug.1, 2010 file photo, a greater one horned rhino eats water plants from a river in Janakauli community forest bordering Chitwan National Park, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Katmandu, Nepal.  (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)
In this Aug.1, 2010 file photo, a greater one horned rhino eats water plants from a river in Janakauli community forest bordering Chitwan National Park, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Katmandu, Nepal. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)

Just how big is this problem? It's bleak. And not just for animals like this rhino. 

By the numbers:

  • 30,000 rhinos are alive today, 5 percent of the population four decades ago
  • 1,000 rhinos and 20,000 elephants a year are killed by poachers
  • The United States put up a $1 million reward to catch wildlife trader Vixay Keosavang, but The Guardian found he hasn't been in the game for years
  • One animal trader was earning up to $14,400 a week (roughly $750,00 a year) for slaughtering animals and shipping their carcasses 
  • A rhino horn can sell for as much as $65,000 per kilogram
Pangolin.jpg
A pangolin sits at the Pangolin Rehabilitation Center of Phnom Tamao Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Center in Tra Pang Sap village, Takeo province, Cambodia, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. The Cambodian zoo staff on Friday held a Buddhist ceremony to open a new initiative to care for injured pangolins rescued from the growing wildlife trade in the country. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Smaller animals are in danger too. Lately, pangolins (pictured above) and certain species of turtles and birds have come under poacher's targets.

Should the US do more to stop global wildlife trafficking?

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