A LOT OF PIRANHA: Man found trying to smuggle 40,000 of the vicious fish into U.S.
Extremely aggressive and territorial, piranha have been known to devour human flesh
That's a LOT OF piranha - the vicious flesh-eating fish common to South America is illegal in the U.S. Joel Rakower of New York City has since pled guilty to smuggling 40,000 of the nasty buggers into the states. He's set to pay a heft fine -
Freshwater fish originating in South American rivers, piranhas are described as extremely aggressive and territorial.
In his plea agreement this week in a Brooklyn courtroom, Rakower admitted that his company purchased piranhas from a Hong Kong tropical fish supplier and then imported them to the city.
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Rakower admitted that he instructed the foreign supplier to falsely label the exotic fish on packing lists as silver tetras. A common and unaggressive aquarium fish, the label of silver tetras went past New York City officials, the statement said.
Rakower smuggled 39,548 piranhas over the course of 2011 and 2012, swimming up costs of approximately $37,376, according to the statement.
Freshwater fish originating in South American rivers, piranhas are described as extremely aggressive and territorial. Twenty-five states in the U.S. have either banned or regulated piranhas, making them illegal to own or sell.
Rakower was "driven by greed and without regard for the health and safety of people or the environment," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who helped investigate the case.
Rakower has agreed to pay more than $70,000 in fines and restitution. His company will serve a two-year period of probation. He will be sentenced on April 24.
Piranha-like fish injured 70 people at a popular beach in Argentina on Christmas of last year. The attack took place near the city of Rosario, on the Parana River. While no one was killed, a seven-year-old girl lost part of her pinky finger.
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