(NEW YORK) — A fish distributor in New York pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Brookyln for taking part in a scheme to smuggle nearly 40,000 piranhas into the U.S.
According to the Justice Department, between 2011 and 2012, Joel Rakower used his shipping company to illegally import the fish from China; packing labels were falsified to indicate the fish were a harmless breed.
The aggressive South American chompers were then sold on the black market.
Piranhas are illegal to own or sell in 25 states — including New York. Rakower was fined $3,000, and his company was ordered to pay $70,000 in fines and restitution.
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Boris Sanchez, Ralph Ellis, Joe Sutton and Azadeh Ansari, CNN
Chandrika Narayan, CNN