A Los Angeles man who was caught smuggling a pair of Arapaima gigas has pleaded guilty to smuggling the rare South American fish into Canada, ending a four year long manhunt for the man. Isaac Zimmerman along with his wife Leonor Catalina Zimmerman and River Wonders, Zimmerman’s Hawthorne, Calif, based fish company were charged in 2009 for participating in illegal global fish trading. In addition to smuggling the Arapaima gigas, Zimmerman was allegedly smuggling piranhas and freshwater stingrays, according to a news report in the Los Angeles Times.
Zimmerman was charged in 2010 with conspiracy, illegal fish trafficking and smuggling, falsifying documents and obstructing an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Times reported. While his wife plead guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 21 months probation, Zimmerman fled the country, spending four years on the run throughout Europe and into Israel before he was captured in Mexico and extradited back to the United States. His sentencing is scheduled for February 8, 2016. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Arapaima gigas is the largest freshwater fish in the world. It is from tropical waters in South America, and grow as large as 9½ feet and weighing in at more than 400 pounds.