Snakehead smuggler nabbed by U.S. authorities
A California man was arrested two weeks ago on federal charges of illegally importing a northern snakehead fish from Korea, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
The snakehead is not indigenous to the United States and scientists worry that if it is released into the wild it can wipe out other fish populations because of its voracious appetite. It also can walk on land and sometimes feeds on frogs, birds and small mammals.
Sung Chul Rhee was arrested at his Koreatown market by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on three counts of illegally importing live injurious fish. Rhee allegedly imported the fish in three shipments last June. The fish were hidden in larger shipments of fresh food sent by South Korea’s Hae Won Seafood via Korean Air, and the snakeheads were labeled “sea bass” or “bass, fresh water fish.”
Investigators estimate Rhee generated nearly $23,000 in sales of snakehead fish in 2002 and the first half of 2003.