Traffickers Caught Smuggling 2 Million Endangered Baby Eels

(Reuters) – Bulgarian customs officials said on Friday that had seized two million endangered European baby eels stashed in containers.

Two alleged Chinese traffickers were detained at Sofia airport for trying to smuggle the eels in eight Styrofoam containers. They were traveling from Madrid to Sofia and declared the eels as food items, officials said.

The European eel is classified as a critically threatened species of fish protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Trading in the species without a permit is forbidden worldwide. Eels sell at 500 euros per kg in Europe but they can fetch up to 1300 euros a kilo in some Asian countries, customs officials said.

Officials said the baby eels were transported to the rescue center at the public aquarium in the Black Sea city of Varna.

(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)