A Charlotte woman has been accused of smuggling live endangered fish from Vietnam, packed inside bottles of fish sauce.
Bich Phuong Truong Phan was charged with violating the Endangered Species Act by attempting to import two Asian bonytongue fish without a permit.
Phan was traveling from Vietnam to Charlotte on July 18 when her luggage and two cardboard boxes were opened and inspected at the Atlanta Jackson Hartsfield International Airport. Inside a cooler in one of the boxes inspectors found two clear plastic bottles appearing to contain an edible mixture of fermented fish in fish sauce or paste, according to an affidavit by an agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Inspectors poured out the mixture and found two black plastic bags. Inside each bag was a live fish, according to the court document.
The Asian bonytongue is a freshwater fish found in the rivers of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Also called the dragon fish, it is considered lucky by natives because of its resemblance to the Chinese mythical dragon.
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