A father and son have been indicted on charges of smuggling illegally harvested sea cucumbers worth more than $17 million into the United States and selling the Chinese delicacy on Asian markets.
Depending on the species, sea cucumbers can go for as much as $300 a pound in China and Hong Kong.
Ramon Torres Mayorquin and his son, David Mayorquin, were charged in federal court in San Diego with conspiracy, false labeling and unlawful importation of wildlife. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, their company, Blessings Inc. of Tucson, Arizona, was also charged.
The sausage-shaped marine animals are prized by some Asian communities as a culinary delicacy and folk-medicine ingredient.
Prosecutors say the Mayorquins bought illegally harvested the crop in Mexico and smuggled it through a San Diego border crossing.