Angeleno Said to Smuggle Giant Fish

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Mexico extradited a Los Angeles man to face federal charges of smuggling the world’s biggest freshwater fish, the South American piracuru, or Arapaima gigas, which can grow to 15 feet.
     Isaac Zimmerman, 66, of West Hills in the San Fernando Valley, is charged with 13 counts of using his Hawthorne-based company, River Wonders, to import piranhas and river stingrays into the United States, federal prosecutors said.
     He’s also accused of obstruction, falsifying documents, false statements, and smuggling the protected piracuru while on pretrial release.
     The piracuru is exceedingly rare and lives primarily in Bolivia. The male carries the young in his mouth until they can survive on their own and swims around the female to protect her.
     Zimmerman and his company and his wife were charged in 2009 with fish smuggling. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, but he fled the county on bond. Federal agents traced him to Europe, Israel and finally to Mexico, where he was arrested in March. He was extradited on Sept. 24 and his indictment was scheduled for Monday. If convicted of the two counts of trading in piracuru, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison.

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