Pittsburgh man pleads guilty to trafficking endangered fish into the area

PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty in the Western District of Pennsylvania for trafficking in endangered and invasive fish.

Anthony Nguyen, aka JoJo Nguyen and Jackie Lee, 49, of Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty to trafficking in endangered Asian arowana and invasive snakehead fish.

Nguyen owned and operated a Pittsburgh business, Ichiban Tropical Fish, specializing in the sale of rare and exotic freshwater tropical fish species.

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During his plea hearing, Nguyen admitted to violating the Lacey Act in 2016 when he sold illegally imported Asian arowana, which are native to Southeast Asia and are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Arowana, also known as “dragon fish” or “Asian bonytongue fish,” are considered the most expensive freshwater fish on earth.

Nguyen also admitted to selling invasive and injurious snakehead fish in 2019. Snakeheads are native to Asia, but have been introduced into freshwater habitats in the U.S.

Nyugen is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 1 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge.