ATLANTA (AP) -- A 33-year-old North Carolina man has pleaded
guilty in to federal charges of smuggling endangered and prohibited wildlife into the U.S.
U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said Tuesday that Qi Gui Nie, doing
business as Lucky Fin, Incorporated, smuggled 10 live endangered Asian Bonytongue fish from Vietnam through Atlanta in October.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspector discovered false
bottoms in several boxes in a shipment of legally imported tropical fish.
When questioned, Nie denied any knowledge of the endangered
fish. But a review of his e-mails by federal authorities revealed
that he had purchased them. The 10 fish, also called Asian Arowana, have a fair market value of about $25,000.
Nie faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to
$250,000 at his sentencing in September.