Environment, News

12 Indicted On Charges Of Illegally Trading Shark Fins, Drugs

In this Jan. 29, 2020, photo made available by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, confiscated hammerhead shark fins are displayed at the Port of Miami. Federal authorities say they indicted 12 people and seized nearly $8 million in cash, jewels and precious metals after disrupting a criminal enterprise that dealt drugs and sold illegally harvested shark fins to buyers overseas. U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine in Savannah, Georgia, told a news conference Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uncovered the conspiracy while investigating the illegal practice of cutting the fins off live sharks and dumping them back into the water to die.
In this Jan. 29, 2020, photo made available by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, confiscated hammerhead shark fins are displayed at the Port of Miami. Federal authorities say they indicted 12 people and seized nearly $8 million in cash, jewels and precious metals after disrupting a criminal enterprise that dealt drugs and sold illegally harvested shark fins to buyers overseas. U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine in Savannah, Georgia, told a news conference Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uncovered the conspiracy while investigating the illegal practice of cutting the fins off live sharks and dumping them back into the water to die.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / via AP
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Federal authorities said Thursday that they have charged 12 people and seized nearly $8 million in cash, jewels and precious metals after disrupting a criminal enterprise that dealt drugs and sold illegally harvested shark fins to buyers overseas.

U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine of Georgia’s Southern District said that what began five years ago as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigation into illegal shark fin trading led to authorities “dismantling a major conspiracy” also involved in illegal marijuana trafficking and money laundering.

“This operation is about much more than disrupting the despicable practice of hacking the fins off of sharks and leaving them to drown in the sea to create a bowl of soup,” Christine told a news conference in Savannah.

An indictment in U.S. District Court says that Terry Xing Zhao Wu ran a company called Serendipity Business Solutions in Burlingame, California, that smuggled shark fins into the U.S. from Mexico and shipped them to Hong Kong.

Soups made from shark fins are considered a delicacy in some Asian countries, and that demand has fueled an illegal practice of catching sharks at sea, removing their fins and then dumping the maimed animals back into the water to die.

The indictment says Wu used a front company in Florida to ship at least 12,500 pounds (5,670 kilograms) of dried shark fins to Hong Kong through the Port of Savannah in 2016 and 2017. Prosecutors said Phoenix Fisheries of Panama City, Florida, used fake paperwork to exploit a Florida law that allows licensed dealers to sell fins from sharks that are legally caught and brought to land whole.

Wu was also involved in illegally shipping marijuana from California to Georgia and other parts of the U.S., according to the indictment.