Over 190 kilos of eels seized in the Port of Algeciras

by Lorraine Williamson

ALGECIRAS – The Guardia Civil have arrested 2 people after seizing more than 190 kilos of eels from the Port of Algeciras (aguilla Anguilla). This is the largest seizure of this specimen made in a port in Andalucia.

The market value of these eels would have reached more than €250,000.


The Guardia Civil of the Fiscal Section of the Port of Algeciras were suspicious of a vehicle coming from Tangier, and therefore stopped it. On inspection of the vehicle, it was noted there were many thermal boxes inside the cargo area of the van. Inside the boxes were what looked to be eels.

Once the merchandise was verified by the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) and by the Foreign Health Service of the Port of Algeciras, said merchandise was transferred to secure facilities so that, in collaboration with the General Directorate of Forest Policy and Biodiversity of the Ministry of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy, be reintroduced to its natural environment.

European eel problem

Since 2010 all imports and exports of live or processed European eels to and from the EU have been prohibited. This is because it was not believed possible to guarantee a non-detrimental trade for the species.  Consequently, Asian countries have difficulties getting Spanish eels (or French, Irish or British) outside the European Union. Therefore, criminal organisations set up mainly in Spain. They then make purchases through Spanish intermediaries to smuggle them out through the different ports and airports in Spain.

Cogesa Expats


In such cases, their destination is fish farms in China. There, they fatten them up for a year until the eels grow to around 70 centimetres. At this point, they then sell them on the Chinese market and, furthermore, export them to Japan, where eel is a national dish.

To facilitate this, the eels are transported in perfectly sealed porexpan boxes containing trays prepared for this purpose. This prevents them from coming out of the packaging during transport.

Aquaculture farms

Then the passengers, either on foot or in vehicles, transport live eels or check the suitcases as their personal luggage at the airport or port. After this, they wait in Asian countries for a contact to deliver the merchandise that will supply a new generation of fingerlings to their aquaculture farms.  These farms are specialised in captive breeding of the European eel.


The 2 detainees have been made available to the Judicial Authority, where their entry into prison has been decreed.

You may also like