Operation Serpent Fines Two $70,000 plus Jail Time for Selling Snakehead

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MNR NEWS November 14, 2012

Following a multi-agency, international undercover operation known as “Operation Serpent,” a Toronto man and a Markham area business have been fined $70,000 for selling snakehead, an invasive fish species.

When victim surcharges and other penalties are added in, the total rises to $90,530.

Court heard that Muk Leung (Jim) Ip, 50, sold 228 snakehead fish at Lucky Aquarium in Markham on four occasions between June 2010 and January 2012. Some of these fish were unlawfully exported to New York State and Manitoba. As part of the plea agreement, Ip was arrested by U.S. authorities and taken into custody in New York State to answer to charges laid there.

Ip has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and fined $10,000 for illegally selling snakehead. He also has to return $3,000 he received for selling the fish. Lucky Aquarium of Markham has been fined $60,000 for illegally selling snakehead.

Ip and Lucky Aquarium also have a two-year probation order that requires them to pay $2,500 to publish notices in Ontario and New York State about the threats posed by invasive fish species and the consequences for those who deal in them.

The convictions are as follows:

  • ▪  Ministry of Natural Resources, Enforcement Branch – Four convictions under Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, for unlawfully selling snakehead fish.
  • ▪  Environment Canada, Wildlife Enforcement Division – One conviction against Ip and Lucky Aquarium for exporting snakehead fish to New York State and one conviction against Ip and Lucky Aquarium for transporting snakehead fish between Ontario and Manitoba under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, 1992.
  •   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – One conviction against Ip for knowingly exporting, transporting and selling giant snakehead fish from Canada to the State of New York in violation of Canadian and New York State laws under the Lacey Act.
  •   New York State Department of Environmental Conservation – One conviction of misdemeanour regarding illegal commercialization of an invasive species, snakehead fish, by selling, trading or bartering in violation of New York State Environmental Conservation Law.


  •   The snakehead fish is a voracious predator with sharp teeth that can travel on land for short distances. Some species of snakehead can survive out of water for up to four days and can also survive cold water temperatures.
  •   If it becomes established in lakes, the snakehead has the potential to decimate fish stocks. Ontario banned the live purchase of snakehead in 2004 and in 2005 banned its live possession.
  •   The investigation concluded on October 12, 2012 when guilty pleas were entered in Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket under Justice of the Peace Dan M. MacDonald. Sentencing took place in Newmarket on November 9, 2012.
  •   To report a natural resources violation, call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll free any time or contact your local ministry office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
About Peter Wood 1194 Articles
As an avid lifelong angler and hunter, Peter’s outdoor knowledge and experiences keep expanding through his hundreds of hours of hunting and fishing podcast interviews with like minded experts. He has received numerous national writing awards. With thousands of outdoor pictures on Ripple Outdoors and many full-length articles with outdoor magazine and video clips you might say that he not only enjoys his outdoor lifestyle, but he’s quite the fanatic! In 2015 he earned fifth overall on the King of the Wood Contest hosted by Canada In The Rough team, pretty good for a baby boomer deer hunter. His buck was also one of the top bucks taken that season. Through Peter’s deer hunting seminars or by attending outdoor trade shows, like the Toronto Sportsmen Show and The SWOC Big Buck Show, he has connected with thousands of like minded people that love hunting and fishing. As a volunteer or member of local and national outdoor groups like QDMA, SWOC, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Archery Trade Show Association he continues to learn and hone his craft. Read his many articles, listen to his podcasts and rifle through thousands of photos on Ripple Outdoors. Discover Peter’s latest posts about outdoor gear, destinations, how to articles and interviews and you’ll be a better angler and hunter for the experience.