Police seize 50 kilos of baby eels at Faro Airport

Three Chinese men were arrested at Faro Airport on Tuesday morning after they tried to board a plane to Lisbon with around 50 kilos of contraband young European eels, a highly endangered species, in their luggage bags.

Not only are passengers not allowed to transport live animals in their luggage, but the species is protected and its capture is prohibited.

As Jornal de Notícias explains, young European eels have a “high commercial value” and are a “delicacy” in Asian countries like China and Vietnam.

According to SIC Notícias, they can be sold for as much as €1,500 per kilo in Portugal and €10,000 in China.

The eels, which were hidden inside several plastic bags with water, were found when the suspects’ nine luggage bags were being scanned.

JN adds that the men aimed to take the eels to Vietnam.

The eels were later released into the Guadiana River in Vila Real de Santo António.

In January, a similar operation saw authorities confiscating 317 kilos of young eels and arresting eight passengers at Lisbon Airport as they tried to smuggle them out of Portugal.