Three men are in deep water after conspiring to smuggle fish to sell on the Japanese market without proper permits. 62 year old Loren Willis, 46 year old Gerard Longo and 55 year old Michael Rambarran are all facing federal charges of conspiracy to transport fish under a false label and sell fish in violation of state law.

According to the indictment the men allegedly schemed in July of last year to smuggle alligator gar from the Trinity River and sell them in Japan. If convicted, they each face up to 5 years in the federal prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

When you hear how much they were paid for the fish, it may make a little more sense why they went to the trouble of smuggling the live fish by van to Florida. $15,000 was promised for the gar, and $40,000 for an 8-footer that the three caught. Evidently the fish are highly valued as aquarium fish in Japan, and are hot items in the "monster fish" market.

The case is being investigated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. They say that this is the first time that they can think of that someone has been indicted for smuggling alligator gar. I was surprised too when I heard someone actually risked jail time to smuggle the live things out of the state, but with price tags like that I'm now surprised people aren't trying it more often.