US seeks $3 million from swimbladder smuggler


Editor's Picks
Do I need an aquarium filter
Features Post
Do I need a filter for an aquarium?
07 February 2024
Features Post
How to set up an African biotope aquarium
01 February 2024
Fishkeeping News Post
AQUAH: A new UK aquatic and reptile show for 2024
17 January 2024
Practical Fishkeeping Readers' Poll 2023
Fishkeeping News Post
Readers' Poll 2023
07 August 2023

Federal prosecutors want a man who smuggled the swimbladders of critically endangered fish into the US from Mexico to pay $3 million in restitution to the Mexican government.

Jason Xie from Sacramento smuggled 270 swimbladders of Totoaba macdonaldi, which is a protected species from Mexico's Sea of Cortez, with the intention of selling them to China where they are believed to boost fertility and improve the skin — and where a single dried bladder can fetch up to $10,000/£6265 on the black market.

Xie was sentenced to four months in prison at his trial in October, but now US prosecutors want him to pay $3 million/£1.88m in restitution. It's intended to send a strong message to other smugglers of Totoaba bladders, which is seen as a growing problem.

The fine would put the value of the swimbladders smuggled by Vie at $11,375/£7125 each — which is the estimated cost of raising a single Totoaba to reproduction age in a captive breeding programme in Mexico, run by scientists trying to re-build the population.

Court records show Xie earned about $3 million from smuggling the swimbladders to China.

The restitution issue will be heard in federal court in January next year.

Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.

Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad/iPhone.