September 24, 2009

Woman allegedly smuggled live fish

Authorities said a woman was arrested in Georgia for allegedly trying to smuggle live endangered fish from Vietnam in bottles of fish sauce.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said inspectors at the Atlanta Jackson Hartsfield International Airport searched the boxes being carried by Bich Phuong Truong Phan of Charlotte, N.C., on her return trip to Charlotte from Vietnam and discovered two bottles appearing to contain fermented fish in fish sauce or paste each also held a live Asian bonytongue fish protected by plastic bags, the Charlotte Observer reported Thursday.

Phan, who told authorities the bottles were a gift from her mother-in-law and she did not know about the live fish, was charged with a violation of the Endangered Species Act after the fish were confiscated July 18.

Authorities said the Asian bonytongue fish can sell for $1,000 to $3,000 in the United States. She could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.