Dragon Fish Smuggling: Seven Charged With Smuggling Endangered Asian Arowana

05/12/2010 02:25 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

LOS ANGELES — A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has indicted seven people on charges of illegally smuggling an endangered fish considered lucky in Asia into the United States.

The U.S. attorney's office says the indictments Tuesday stem from a 2005 undercover sting operation in which a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent pretended to be a middleman working for an exporter in Bogor, Indonesia.

The exporter, Andree Gunawan, faces two felony counts of smuggling endangered wildlife and four counts of offering an endangered species for sale.

Many Southeast Asian cultures believe the Asian arowana, or dragon fish, brings luck and protect their owners from evil spirits.

The juveniles sell for about $1,000, and the more colorful adults, which grow to up to 2 feet long, go for $20,000.