A South Korean woman living in Los Angeles has been charged with importing bear bile from China to illegally sell as an aphrodisiac. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Investigators intercepted a package addressed the Seongja Hyun while waiting for transport to Los Angeles from a San Francisco sorting facility. Inside the package they found four containers of bear bile, leading them to further investigate Hyun.
At her home they discovered that she already possessed bear bile and packaging, clearly showing that she had been selling the bile through the mail. She has been arrested and charged for importing wildlife under the Endangered Species Act and could spend up to 20 years in prison.
Bear bile farms are an ongoing problem in China, with 7,000-10,000 moon bears living in horrible conditions. To harvest the bile, bears have holes punched in their abdomens to allow a tube inside their gallbladder. The surgery practically immobilizes the animals and they are kept in small cages their entire lives.
Photo Credit: law_keven on Flickr under Creative Commons license.