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Alleged Fish Smuggler Could Do Time

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The owner of an L.A. seafood company was charged with smuggling millions of dollars worth of endangered abalone, sea cucumber and totoaba into San Diego from Mexico.

Kam Wing Chan, 61, of Monterey Park, and his business Kaven Co. were arraigned on federal charges on Jan. 8, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Chan is charged with smuggling 37 lbs. of dried abalone, including the endangered white and black abalone; 58 totoaba swim bladders; 10 tons of sea cucumber; and 1,104 lbs. of abalone - in all, more than $3 million worth of marine life.

"These exports were destined primarily to companies owned by one of Chan's relatives," the U.S. attorney said in a statement.

Dried sea cucumber sells for as much as $600 per kilogram in Hong Kong and China, prosecutors said, with one species fetching as much as $3,000 per kilo.

The endangered totoaba, which grow to more than 6 ft., are only found in the Gulf of California. They are a delicacy in Mexico, where a single swim bladder, used in soups, can sell for up to $4,000. They can bring 10 times that price in Asia, according to the U.S. attorney.

If convicted of all eight charges, Chan could face as much as 70 years in prison, and fines. Hearing motions have been set for Feb. 6.

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