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California man must pay $500K over fish bladders

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:16 p.m. HST, Mar 26, 2014

SAN DIEGO » A Sacramento man who smuggled endangered fish bladders into the United States from Mexico to later sell to Asia has been ordered to pay $500,000.

U-T San Diego reports that the restitution ordered Wednesday in federal court in San Diego was well short of the $3 million sought by prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Pierson said the stiffer punishment was necessary to discourage others from trafficking the swim bladders of Totoaba fish, which are only found in Mexico's Sea of Cortez.

Jason Xie pleaded guilty to smuggling 270 of the bladders last June.

The fish bladders are prized in China for their purported medicinal properties and can fetch $5,000 to $10,000 apiece on the black market. The demand for Totoaba has contributed to the fish's critically endangered status.

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Grimbold wrote:
I thought Asians are smart. But they buy these stupid quack medical cures for horrendous money.
on March 27,2014 | 06:08AM
cojef wrote:
It's a culture thing, based on ancient traditions and practices.
on March 27,2014 | 11:03AM
nitpikker wrote:
maybe the judge is chinese?? the fine is not much of a deterrent.
on March 27,2014 | 08:58AM
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