From: Associated Press
Published March 11, 2005 12:00 AM

Flight Attendant Caught Trying to Smuggle Endangered Fish into Australia in His Baggage

MELBOURNE, Australia — Customs officers thought there was something fishy about the baggage of a flight attendant arriving in Australia from Vietnam. They were right.


The man, whose identity was not released, was found to have 16 highly endangered Asian Arowana fish in water-filled plastic bags hidden in his luggage, customs officials said Friday.


The 26-year-old flight attendant just got off a plane from Vietnam at Melbourne International airport when customs officers spotted something unusual in an X-ray and decided to search his bags, regional customs manager Geoff Johannes said in a statement.


The man faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 110,000 Australian dollars (US$87,000; euro64,881.8) if convicted of smuggling wildlife into Australia. Johannes said officials expect to charge him once they have finished their investigations.


"The fish found by customs are listed ... as being highly endangered," Johannes said. "In addition to the protection of endangered species, the fish could have been carrying diseases."


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Australia has some of the world's toughest quarantine laws, to protect its unique flora and fauna from imported diseases.


Source: Associated Press


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