Spain’s Guardia Civil police have seized 18 tonnes of eels and baby eels destined for Asia in a huge operation targeting smugglers of the critically endangered creatures. A further 6 tonnes were seized by other police across Europe.
Officers arrested 256 suspected smugglers as part of the ‘historic’ operation coordinated by the EU’s police agency Europol that involved 32 EU countries including France and Portugal, Spain’s Guardia Civil police force said in a statement.
The bulk of the eels, 18 tonnes, were seized in Spain where police smashed three separate organised crime groups involved in the trade of the creatures with the arrest of 30 people, the statement added.
‘Police identified shell companies created expressly to export eels to Asia, which disguised the exports among other refrigerated products,’ the statement said.