An Orange County, California deputy sheriff pulled over a maroon Toyota van last month after he caught it speeding.
Everything seemed amiss from the very start. The two men inside the car were Chinese nationals known as Yikang Liang and Haoyu Huang, who said they came to the United Stated to shop for clothes. The driver’s hands were also shaking when he gave the deputy his license.
Their stories do not match up, too. They said they lived in Mexico for years, but neither could answer in basic Spanish. Through checking, the deputy found that the two entered Mexico and had three large boxes in the back of the van.
The deputy suspected they were drug smugglers, so he asked for backup and had his police dog check the vehicle.
Apparently, they found out they were smuggling a different kind of illegal materials.
The deputies have found dried swim bladders of 132 totoaba, which is an endangered fish. For the Chinese, they believe the bladders have “revitalizing properties,” which is why it is very popular in the country. It costs about $20,000 to $80,000 per kilogram. ‘rivaling the price of gold and cocaine,’ according to Quartz.
A US Fish and Wildlife Service agent found video of the two men involved in fishing for the endangered species.
No criminal charges have yet been filed against them, as investigation continues.
Read the full report in Quartz: “Tourists” caught in US with endangered fish bladders worth $3.7 million