INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An illegal caviar ring has been broken up with the arrest of a dozen people accused of dealing in the ill-gotten fish eggs, conservation officials said.
Members of the ring caught paddlefish — distant cousins of caviar-producing sturgeon — in Ohio River tributaries and sold their eggs as caviar, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One paddlefish can yield as much as $800 worth of eggs, and annual income for those who catch them can range from $100,000 to $400,000.
Paddlefish are edible, but their real value lies in the eggs. A shortage of sturgeon eggs from Asia's Caspian Sea has created a lucrative market for paddlefish eggs, which have a similar taste, look and consistency, according to state officials.
It totally boggles the imagination how many different types of illegal enterprises a criminal mind can come up with. Starting up an illegal caviar ring has to rank right up there in originality. If they had expended the same amount of energy and expertise to starting up a legitimate operation, they'd probably be touted in the Wall Street Journal by now as business geniuses.
The other thing that boggles my mind is that people would pay upwards of $100/ounce for this stuff. This is just as idiotic as someone paying $400 for a haircut. I suppose John Edwards must eat this slime.
I live right next to the mighty Crow River; maybe JR and I will have to go out and find the bullhead and catfish spawning grounds. I can't imagine that would taste any worse than sturgeon eggs; but hey, even if we only get $20-30/ounce, we'd still make out like bandits.
This is one ugly fish. The paddlefish: