Illegal eel trafficking: 27 people detained and 1.5 tons of live eels seized in Spain and France

Spanish and French police have detained 27 people in connection with illegal eel trafficking and seized 1.5 tons of live eels, along with frozen batches of eels, and more than €2 million in assets. The investigation, which began in 2021, was a joint operation by Spanish and French authorities, Europol, and the European Anti-Fraud Office, and included searches of 30 homes, businesses, and "clandestine hatcheries" in several countries. Eels are highly valued in some Asian countries, with a kilogram fetching over $5,000, leading to criminal organizations concealing batches of live eels and smuggling them to Asia. The live eels have been released back into the wild to preserve their survival.

27 people have been arrested in Spain and France as part of a criminal investigation into illegal eel trafficking. Law enforcement seized 1.5 tons of live eels, as well as several tons of frozen eels not suitable for the food chain, and more than €2 million in assets.

The live eels were released back into the wild, and the investigation was carried out thanks to a police collaboration that identified irregularities in the European eel trade.

The high value of eels in some Asian countries, where it can reach more than $5000 per kilogram, has led to criminal organizations concealing and exporting batches of live eels to Asian customers.