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FBI intercepts illegal fish bladders sent from Mexico to China

Mexico City, Mexico — More than 160 fish swim bladders from totoaba bass were found by the FBI and reported to customs authorities of Taiwan. The Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau reported the dried fish parts were shipped from Mexico using an international courier services.

They were intercepted in the U.S. by the FBI at a courier company. The swim bladders were bound for New Taipei, smuggled illegally from Mexico. The Taiwan Criminal Investigation also reported the arrest of a 30-year-old man surnamed Yao who they say, was responsible for the attempted smuggling of the illegal fish parts into the country. They say the 161 bladders weighed approximately 19 kilograms and were destined for the black market.

The fish swim bladders from the totoaba bass are scarce with the fish being placed on the international endangered species lists since the 1970s. The fish is referred to as the Mercedes-Benz of dried fish, referring to its extreme high cost since the fish exists only in the northernmost section of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

The crops were analyzed by laboratories in Taiwan and the United States to confirm that they were Tototaba, a species in danger of extinction, protected by Mexican legislation and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Chinese culture has long believed fish bladder is rich in collagen, improving skin texture and maintaining youthful-looking skin.