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Six arrested at Brussels Airport over eel smuggling

20:34 27/02/2023

Six people have been arrested at Brussels Airport for trafficking endangered eels.

The group were caught with approximately 200kg worth of the creatures with an estimated black-market value of €400,000.

Customs took notice when 18 identical suitcases were checked-in for a flight and scanned them, finding that they all had the same contents: bags of water containing the endangered ‘glass eels’ and bottles of frozen water.

Glass eels, so named for their translucent appearance, are small eels subject to marketing restrictions.

To trade them, permission is needed from the CITES department of the FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.

But the Malaysian owners of the suitcases had no export permit.

Customs concluded that they were attempting to smuggle the 200kg of eels into Malaysia via Qatar and Vietnam.

Officers then contacted the public prosecutor's office, which ordered the arrest of the six smugglers.

The maximum penalty for smuggling an endangered species is five years in prison.

Written by Helen Lyons