Guardia Civil seize network of Chinese elver smugglers

© Guardia Civil
Live elvers discovered by the Guardia Civil.

EVERY operation undertaken by the Guardia Civil is given a special name and when the Nature arm, Seprona, started an investigation into the illegal export of Angulas (elvers or juvenile eels) it was inventively name Black Glass.

Commencing in October 2015, officers became aware that large volumes of these elvers were being illegally obtained by Chinese traders, and smuggled out of Spain to Asia using false documents.

Over a period of time and with the active assistance of Europol, various addresses near to the Madrid Barajas Airport were kept under surveillance and raids in various parts of the country netted 700 kilos of illegal elvers with an estimated value of €1 million.


Having identified those responsible, 20 people, mainly of Chinese nationality, but including three Spaniards were arrested and the operation has been dismantled, although a further nine suspects are being hunted.

The Guardia Civil has released the information that shipments of elvers were made in special suitcases carried by ‘mules,’ on different flights, as the export per passenger of less than €50,000 in value, is not generally considered a crime, although it was in this case as it was an organised operation. 

Following a raid on the property near the airport not only were large numbers of live elvers found but records discovered suggest that 2,527.43 kilos of elvers, with a value of €4 million, were illegally exported.


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