Warty Sea Cucumber photo by Roban Kramer via Wikimedia Commons

An East Coast man was arraigned in San Diego Tuesday on charges of smuggling protected and endangered sea life out of Mexico.

Wei Wei Wang, 37, was charged along with fellow New York resident Alan Ren with attempting to transport about 83 pounds of frozen black abalone and 172 pounds of sea cucumber into the United States in February 2016.

Ren, 48, remains a fugitive, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

Black abalone, found in intertidal waters off the coasts of California and Baja California, has been protected under the Endangered Species Act since January 2009. Harvesting the molluscs is illegal in California, as their population was reduced over 80 percent by a disease called withering syndrome in the mid-1980s.

Isostichopus fuscus is the only form of sea cucumber found in Mexico that is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

“This case demonstrates the federal law enforcement community’s ongoing vigilance in uncovering illegal wildlife smuggling and prosecuting perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law,” acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson said.

“Traffickers beware — we will take all necessary action to stop these financially motivated threats to our endangered species.”

Wang, a citizen of Taiwan, was ordered to appear for a motions hearing in the case on July 7.

–City News Service