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Dragon Fish Smuggling: Seven Charged With Smuggling Endangered Asian Arowana

RAQUEL MARIA DILLON   05/11/10 10:02 PM ET   AP

Dragon Fish Smuggling
This undated image provided by the U.S. Attorney's office shows a seized Asian arowana. Some people believe that a live Asian arowana will bring good luck to its owner and protect them from evil spirits. Depending on size and color, the Asian arowana can fetch prices ranging from $1,000 for a small five-inch long fish to $10,000 or more for a 18-24 inch fish. A Los Angeles grand jury has indicted seven people Tuesday May 11, 2010, from across the country with illegally smuggling the endangered a

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.

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Filed by Adam J. Rose  |