Hair on the black market: where does it come from and how much is it worth?

With elaborate thefts and a network of illegal traffic, hair moves fortunes in the global black market and gains prominence in Latin America

Hair on the black market: where does it come from and how much is it worth?

Although the problem of hair theft to be sold in the black mark became more relevant between 2011 and 2013 when in the USA there were haircuts for up to $ 120,000 in hairdressing and beauty salons, this issue has once again, an armed group broke IGNORE INTO the Vicente Suarez school in Acapulco, Mexico, to steal the hair of students and teachers at the beginning of this year.

Leer en español: Pelo en el mercado negro: ¿cómo se obtiene y cuánto vale?

According to testimonies, 20 students and two teachers were sheared with scissors and machetes by an armed gang that used the same machetes to intimidate them and keep them kneeling while extracting their hair. According to the Excelsior newspaper of Mexico, hair theft "is a crime that has increased worldwide in recent years." This is due to the high prices paid on the black market by strands of hair to make expensive wigs and extensions. According to the BBC "a bunch of good quality hair costs between $ 4,000 and $ 5,000 US dollars."

In 2017 more than 50 women report having been victims of hair theft in the north of India. Likewise, in Venezuela since 2013, cases of hair theft have been reported under threat of firearms by a criminal group called Las Pirañas. In February of this year, three women raided a beauty products store in North Carolina taking $ 24,000 in hair extensions.

According to a BBC documentary, the route followed by the thieves and traffickers of hair in the world begins with the theft of hair in India, Russia and Latin America and culminates in the sale of this in European and American beauty salons.

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In addition to this international black market, there are local markets throughout the world. For example, in Mexico City there is the Facebook group "Compro pelo virgen" ("I buy virgin hair") in which 50cm of hair are sold for prices from 1000 Mexican pesos (50 dollars) depending on the quality of the hair, measured in terms of shine and wear. Likewise, on the website www.compracabello.com you can access the contacts of hair buyers throughout Latin America. Also in Mercado Libre the hair is offered for prices between 1,250 and 4,500 Mexican pesos (65 and 235 dollars). The problem with these local markets is that the provenance of the hair is unknown, so it could have been stolen.

Other methods

However, hair theft is not the only way in which it reaches the black market. This year in Mexico City, Televisa picked up testimonies from manufacturers of extensions and wigs who said that their people tend to get people offering the hair of young girls who say they do not agree with having their hair cut and sold. In the same note, Televisa also denounced the Mexican churches as sources of hair trafficking, since the hair left on the altars as an offering is sold on the black market. The Mexican chain evidenced a case of a priest who arrived at a hairdresser in Mexico City with kilos of foreign hair for sale.

The most expensive hair

According to the Mexican newspaper Excelsior the most coveted hair type on the black market is known as "remy". This is hair that has never received any treatment, with the cuticle intact which gives it shine. This type of hair is popular among women in India and two packages of this (average amount that is usually purchased) cost more than $ 200.


LatinAmerican Post | Sofía Carreño

Translated from "Pelo en el mercado negro: ¿cómo se obtiene y cuánto vale?"

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