7 charged with smuggling endangered fish bladders to China; hundreds seized at US border

Federal prosecutors in San Diego say seven people have been charged in a scheme to sell the bladders of an endangered Mexican fish considered a delicacy for use in Chinese soup.

The U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday the bladders from the totoaba (toe-TWAH-bah) fish can sell for more than $10,000 in some countries and are coveted just like shark fins in a different Asian soup.

The giant fish live exclusively in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, where they are illegally captured with gillnets when they migrate to shallow waters.

The totoaba has been protected under the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species since 1976 and was added to the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1979. Commercial fishing is also prohibited in Mexico.