OC Man Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Valuable Aquarium Fish

Wikimedia photo by user “Gingko100”

The Orange County Register has the details on a Garden Grove man who plead guilty to smuggling aquarium fish, and needless say it’s not the goldfish that you’d find at your local pet store.  Here’s OCR’s  Sean Emery with more:

A Garden Grove man is facing federal conspiracy and illegal wildlife-importation felonies after authorities say he was caught helping to smuggle Asian arowana fish into the United States from Indonesia.

Shawn Naolu Lee, 29, was one of two men indicted this month after federal prosecutors allege that they broke the Endangered Species Act by importing a species of fish facing extinction.

According to the indictment, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors on Feb. 9 found eight live arowanas inside of a postal package from Hong Kong.

Federal officials, who apparently intercepted the package, would not disclose what alerted them to it.

Fish and wildlife agents, dressed as delivery men, brought the fish to Lee’s Garden Grove home, according to the indictment. With the help of immigration and homeland security investigators, they took Lee into custody and searched his home. The search turned up bundles of cash totaling $15,370, according to a court document.

Lee denied any knowledge about the contents of the package, but an investigator wrote in a court filing that he referred to Asian arowanas as “Arrows,” which the investigator described as a “term of art of those who traffic in that type of fish.”

The story also says a single arowana can fetch as much as $150,000.