U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Area Port of Nogales confiscated 242 pounds of Totoaba swim bladders protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Endangered Species Act with an estimated value of $2,700,000.00.
CBP officers working at the Mariposa trade facility discovered 270 swim bladders of the endangered Totoaba fish hidden within a commercial shipment of frozen fish fillets on April 13.
CBP notified the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, who took possession of the bladders.
According to preliminary DNA testing by the USFWS, these bladders represent the endangered species Totoaba macdonaldi, which is only found in the Gulf of California in Mexico.
Our officers and agriculture specialists enforce a wide variety of laws on behalf of numerous agencies, said Tucson Field Office Director of Field Operations Guadalupe Ramirez. “This find by our CBP Officers, potentially the second largest seizure of Totoaba swim bladders nationwide, is an exceptional example of the job they do enforcing laws regarding all commodities entering the United States. Its also an excellent example of our working relationship with our US Fish and Wildlife partners, enforcing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species treaty agreement.”
Since 1979, the totoaba fish has been endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
This species and other related species’ swim bladders are considered sacred in Traditional Chinese Medicine and as an Asian cultural delicacy. Because the species is legally protected, it is prohibited to collect, possess, transport, or sell Totoaba in both the United States and Mexico.