Man smuggles 40,000 piranhas into New York City

If one man attempted to sneak a few rooster testes into Vietnam, and another man managed to procure 13 bottles of booze in his sweat pants after leaving a Costco, then what possibly could go wrong with one man’s smuggling 40,000 piranhas into the Dirty Apple?

National Geographic reports that a 66-year-old tropical fish salesman in Queens brought in 39,548 flesh-eating piranhas from Hong Kong in 2011 and 2012, but on the books had his supplier listed as silver tetras, which do not eat flesh. You follow? The Justice Department followed, and on Wednesday announced their arrest of Joel Rakower, who subsequently plead guilty to charges and is looking at fines upwards of $70,000.

Piranhas are illegal in 25 states (the ban started in NYC in 2011) and are considered by the federal government “extremely aggressive and territorial, feeding on insects, fish and larger prey such as amphibians, reptiles and mammals.” No shit.


Now, thanks to Rakower, 38-some-odd-thousand piranhas are in circulation in the U.S. (Justice was only able to recover 850 of the 39,548.)

Rakower sold the piranhas for $1 a piece, he said. He made a minor error in judgment, and he’s paying for it,” said the suspect’s attorney. 

A federal court date has been set for April 24 in Brooklyn.

h/t NatGeo/image via