CBP officers in Arizona seize $2.7 million worth of Totoaba Swim Bladders

Jun 13, 2023, 8:00 PM

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo)...

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo)

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo)

PHOENIX — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Arizona seized about $2.7 million worth of highly sought after Totoaba Swim Bladders, authorities said Monday.

CBP officers working at the Mariposa trade facility at the Port of Nogales discovered the 270 swim bladders of the endangered Totoaba fish in a shipment of frozen fillets on April 13, according to a press release.

DNA testing revealed the bladders were the endangered species Totoaba macdonaldi endemic to the Gulf of California in Mexico.

The bladders, in traditional Chinese medicine, are supposed to have health benefits and are a cultural delicacy.

“This find by our CBP officers, potentially the second largest seizure of Totoaba swim bladders nationwide, is an exceptional example of the job they do enforcing laws regarding all commodities entering the United States,” Guadalupe Ramirez, Tucson field office director of field operations, said in the release.

Totoaba fish have been an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 1979.

Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the smuggling attempt.

No other information was available.

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CBP officers in Arizona seize $2.7 million worth of Totoaba Swim Bladders