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LHR Passenger Busted With a Small Fortune Worth of Baby Eels

A passenger was arrested after customs officials at Heathrow found nearly 600,000 live eels worth more than $1 million hidden in coolers containing chilled fish.

Officials at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) suspected something was fishy with a passenger’s cargo of fresh seafood. In addition to the expected fish, authorities discovered hundreds of thousands of baby eels writhing amongst the shipment. Far from being a contaminant, the endangered “European Glass” eels bound for Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) were the real catch of the day.

The hidden cache of nearly 600,000 illicit eels was valued at more than a million dollars. An unidentified 64-year-old passenger accused of trying to smuggle the culinary delicacy to China was arrested before the flight could depart. The would-be eel mule is now facing a bevy of smuggling charges in the UK.

“This was a significant seizure, the first of its kind for this type of species at export in the UK,” LHR Border Force spokesperson Grant Miller told The Evening Standardj.

Faced with rapidly declining numbers, the eels have long been designated as a threatened species. Some estimates suggest that eel populations have decreased by as much 90 percent since the 1970s. The export of the endangered eels have been banned throughout the EU, but demand for the delicacy has only increased in many eastern markets.

Black market sales of the endangered eels has become an increasingly lucrative business. Similar large scale smuggling operations have been disrupted by law enforcement in the USGreeceBulgariaIndonesiaSpain and China in recent years.

The eels seized in the most recent sting at LHR were repatriated to their native Spain.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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5 Comments
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nyc2socal March 8, 2017

I don't get it.. How can something be endangered if one person is trying to smuggle 600,000 of them?

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HomerJay March 6, 2017

Saw the movie. Samuel L. Jackson. It was a hoot. "Enough is enough. I have had it with these MF snakes on this MF plane." So now, it's eels. Same old. Same old. Hollywood just changes one or two things and recycles the plot.

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Doc Savage March 6, 2017

Elicit smuggling.

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Fredd March 6, 2017

Make that "Big Pizza Pie."

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Fredd March 6, 2017

"That's a moray." That headline hit my eye like a big pizza eye. Good one!