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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2009 Press Release Index
    Release No. 09-150

    December 30, 2009

    ORANGE COUNTY MAN WHO TRAFFICKED IN ‘DRAGON FISH’ SENTENCED IN FEDERAL ENDANGERED SPECIES CASE

    A Garden Grove man who illegally imported endangered fish – Asian Arowanas – that were concealed in his luggage aboard a commercial airline flight in violation of the Endangered Species Act has been sentenced for smuggling six specimens into the United States.

    Ricky Vu, 35, was sentenced Monday to serve six months on home detention as part of a two-year period of probation, to perform 200 hours of community service, and to pay a criminal fine of $7,500. Vu was sentenced by United States District Judge Percy Anderson.

    Vu pleaded guilty on October 15 to a misdemeanor charge of illegally importing an endangered species, admitting that he hid the Arowanas in his suitcase during a September 28 flight from Indonesia to Los Angeles International Airport. The fish were concealed in plastic bags that were filled with water to keep the fish alive. When he arrived at LAX, agents with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and Customs and Border Protection searched his bag and found the fish alive.

    The Asian Arowana – commonly called “dragon fish” or “lucky fish” – is native to Southeast Asia and can grow to up to three feet in length. Under the Endangered Species Act and international treaties, permits are required to export endangered or protected species from their country of origin, as well as import them into the United States. The permitting system is designed to protect species by preventing the creation of black markets for them in the United States and elsewhere. In the United States, Asian Arowanas can sell on the black market for thousands of dollars.

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    Release No. 09-150
    Return to the 2009 Press Release Index