Some 300 dead sharks were found butchered on a roadside in western Mexico, 240km away from the sea.

Locals from the Michoacan state of Mexico made the gruesome discovery on Wednesday (24 January).

It was a harsh scene: the lifeless remains of 300 thresher sharks, dumped by thieves on a Mexican road.

The remains of the sea predators were gutted and their fins had been removed. According to the Associated Press, they were found by the township of Yurecuaro, where gang violence and drug cartels are common.

The office for environmental protection said these sharks had been fished legally in the states of Sonora and Sinaloa. They were in the process of being shipped by truck to Mexico City when thieves stopped the truck.

They were more interested in the vehicle than what it was carrying and dumped its cargo on the road before taking off. Whether the fishermen or the thieves cut the animals' fins has not been said.

According to Pew Charitable Trust, about 100 million sharks die from commercial fishing each year, with the thresher shark making up a substantial part of that amount.

Thresher sharks are recognisable by their very long tail-fin that can be as long as their whole bodies. They use them to sting and capture prey. These exact fins are also the reason why they are popular among smugglers: shark fins fetch around £5,250 on Asian fish markets.

In Europe, shark finning (catching sharks, removing their fins and throwing the rest of the shark back into the sea) has been illegal since 2003. However, thresher sharks are not a species protected by law on Mexican territory.

Their skin is also popular, as its used to make leather, and an oil extracted from their liver is an ingredient in certain vitamins.