Man charged with illegally trafficking invasive fish

A Pittsburgh man was indicted Monday on federal charges of trafficking endangered and invasive fish, according to officials from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Anthony Nguyen, 48, was charged with violating the Lacey Act, the law that prohibits the sale and trade of illegal wildlife. Mr. Nguyen, who is also known as JoJo or Jackie Lee, is accused of selling an endangered Asian arowana and an invasive snakehead fish.

Prosecutors said Mr. Nguyen owned and operated a business “specializing in the sale of rare and exotic freshwater tropical fish species,” but the indictment does name the business.

According to Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill, the snakehead presents a serious risk to Pennsylvania’s ecosystem. “They are voracious predators, can live out of water for days, can move across land, and can wipe out the native species that inhabit freshwaters of the United States,” Mr. Brightbill wrote in a release.

In 2016, Mr. Nguyen illegally sold imported Asian arowana, the indictment says. The endangered species is one of the most expensive freshwater fish on earth and can sell for as much as tens of thousands of dollars, the Justice Department said. He also allegedly sold a snakehead fish in 2019 and falsified its shipment documents, also a violation of the Lacey Act.