India has outlawed cattle exports, but that hasn’t prevented well-organized traffickers from herding millions of the unlucky beasts each year onto trains and trucks, injecting them with drugs on arrival so they walk faster, then forcing them to ford rivers and lumber into slaughterhouses immediately across the border. Most cows pass through West Bengal state, which shares a 1,300-mile border with Bangladesh.
Estimates suggest 1.5 million cows, valued at up to $500 million, are smuggled annually, providing more than half the beef consumed in Bangladesh. The cows come from as far as Rajasthan, about 1,000 miles away. Many trade hands several times en route. The profits can be significant. A $100 medium-size cow in Jharkhand is worth nearly double that in West Bengal and about $350 in Bangladesh.