New York restaurateur admits to sea cucumber smuggling in San Diego court
City News Service
4:09 PM, Sep 29, 2017
4:10 PM, Sep 29, 2017
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A New York restaurant owner pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego Friday to conspiring to smuggle black abalone and a regulated type of sea cucumber into the United States from Mexico.
In entering his plea, Alan Ren conceded that he conspired with another defendant to smuggle around 83 pounds of frozen black abalone, an endangered species, and about 172 pounds of sea cucumber, which is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The owner of two Chinese restaurants pleaded guilty to smuggling, unlawful importation of wildlife and conspiracy. He faces as much as 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines when sentenced Jan. 12.
Prosecutors said Ren, 48, reported that he operated a seafood business in which he employed co-defendant Wei Wei Wang to handle the finances.
Ren admitted that he drove into the United States a minivan, with Wang as a passenger, that contained 250 pounds of seafood hidden in three suitcases and a black plastic bag, prosecutors said. In his plea agreement, Ren said he intended to deliver the abalone and sea cucumber to others in the U.S. to complete a commercial transaction.