Department of Justice news release summary – August 30, 2023
SAN DIEGO – Zunyu Zhao (also known as Kathy Zhao) and Xionwei Xiao (also known as Luis Xiao) pleaded guilty in federal court this week to a two-count indictment charging them with conspiracy and illegal importation of sea cucumbers.
According to the indictment and plea agreement, starting on May 9, 2017, and through February 10, 2019, Zhao and Xiao conspired to illegally import Isostichopus Fuscus sea cucumbers, a species protected under Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, without the appropriate permits and documentation.
In May 2017, Zhao was stopped at the Calexico Port of Entry, attempting to smuggle 11.50 kg of Isostichopus Fuscus sea cucumbers. In February 2019, Zhao was stopped once again at the Calexico Port of Entry with 2 kg of undeclared Isostichopus Fuscus sea cucumbers. Between 2017 and 2019, Zhao and Xiao messaged each other with texts and images of other transactions in their illegal Isostichopus Fuscus sea cucumber importation conspiracy, as Zhao confirmed for Xiao each shipment that she smuggled into the United States.