LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – An investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has resulted in four people being taken into custody on federal charges of illegally transporting and selling Asian Arowanas, an endangered species, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
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 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 value for as much as $10,000.
The four defendants arrested yesterday were named in criminal complaints filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles. They are:
Bruce Penny, 36, of Cypress, California, who is accused of selling several Asian Arowanas to a purchaser in New York;
Anthony Robles, 29, of Carson, California, who is accused of purchasing Asain Arowanas, selling some to Penny and helping Penny ship some of the fish to the New York buyer;
Peter Wu, 42, of Rowland Heights, California, a physician who is charged with transporting and selling an Asian Arowana to an undercover agent with the Fish & Wildlife Service; and
William Ho, 25, of Boston, who is charged with selling several Asian Arowanas to the New York Buyer.
All four defendants were released on bond after making their initial court appearances. A United States Magistrate Judge in Los Angeles scheduled preliminary hearings for Penny, Robles and Wu on October 11 and arraignments on October 16. In federal court in Boston, Ho was advised that he could plead guilty there or he was to appear in federal court in Los Angeles on October 10.
All four defendants are charged with one count of violating the Endangered Species Act. The maximum sentence for each violation is five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Dorothy C. Kim