Two Men Arrested At Airport With 252,000 Live Eels In Their Suitcases
Whether it’s a pig head, horse genitals, or animal brains, customs officials around the world find pretty interesting items in people’s luggage. Here’s another one to add to the list: live eels (though apparently this is a huge problem within Europe). Authorities in Zagreb, Croatia arrested two South Korean men attempting to smuggle live eels out of the country.
The authorities arrested the two men, who were 38 and 47, respectively, because eels are a protected species under European law. The two had eight suitcases that were each packed with tens of thousands of juvenile eels. The eels are estimated to be worth $204,000.
I was not aware that Europe takes this issue very seriously. The European eel is considered a critically endangered animal by the European Commission. The Commission placed strict limitations on the species in order to preserve and expand the current population. The eels are important to the economy in Europe because, “the eel has socio-economic importance and has historically sustained many small-scale fisheries.”
Last year, over 110 million juvenile eels were trafficked out of Europe to Asia over the course of a few months. The eels are smuggled to farms in Asia where they are left to grow to full size. Juvenile eels are very tiny and it is easy for people to capture them and farm them into adults upon getting them out of Europe.
The eels were confiscated and given to the Zagreb Zoo. Croatian authorities say the two could face jail time if convicted under the charge of “destroying protected natural goods.
The eels were likely being smuggled to South Korea because Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine dishes with eels are popular.