Seafood trader in UK guilty of smuggling €62m of endangered live eels

Seafood trader in UK guilty of smuggling €62m of endangered live eels

A seafood salesman has been found guilty in England of smuggling more than £53m (€62m) worth of endangered live eels out of the UK.

Gilbert Khoo, 66, transported the rare elvers from London to Hong Kong hidden underneath chilled fish between 2015 and 2017.

He was caught after British Border Force officers found 200kg of the European “glass eels”, which are on the verge of extinction, at Heathrow Airport in the first ever seizure of its kind in the UK.

The live eels in transit (NCA)
The live eels in transit (NCA)

Khoo was found guilty of three counts of failure to notify movement of animals and three counts of evasion of a prohibition or restriction on the export of goods at Southwark Crown Court in England today.

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said he smuggled more than five million elvers over a two-year period with an estimated retail value of more than £53 million in the Far East.

A picture released by the National Crime Agency shows him holding two gold bars.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said: “The entire operation run by Khoo to trade in these critically endangered animals was illegal from start to finish, and there is no doubt his sole motivation was money.

“The profits to be made from illegally smuggling live eels to Hong Kong and the Far East are significant.

“But, the NCA are determined to protect vulnerable wildlife from criminals who wish to benefit financially.

Khoo, from Chessington in Surrey, kept the live eels imported from countries within the European Union in a barn in Gloucestershire, before repackaging them to be exported to Asia.

The NCA said eels fetch more than 10 times the price they would in the UK on the East Asian black market, where they are considered a delicacy and are in high demand.

There are strict controls on the export of European eels, known as Anguilla Anguilla, due to their status as an endangered animal.

The eels discovered at a warehouse (NCA)
The eels discovered at a warehouse (NCA)

Marion Longford, the unit head of the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said: “Khoo was trading these animals purely for a financial gain. He had no regard for the controls in place for trading endangered European eels which are vital to safeguard animals increasingly at risk of being wiped out completely.

“We would like to thank Border Force and the National Crime Agency for their investigative work.

“We take crime against protected animals incredibly seriously and take every step we can to secure convictions in these cases.

“The impact that these crimes have on our environment and our communities cannot be understated, why is why we’re committed to building cases against offenders and ensuring they’re held to account for their actions.”

Khoo will be sentenced on March 6.

More on this topic

Bear ‘foster mother’ adopts orphaned cub rescued by pet dogBear ‘foster mother’ adopts orphaned cub rescued by pet dog

Meath Dog Rescue are  'tired of same old excuses' about people surrendering older dogsMeath Dog Rescue are 'tired of same old excuses' about people surrendering older dogs

Puppy love: Irish couple on dream trip campaign to save Colombian pupsPuppy love: Irish couple on dream trip campaign to save Colombian pups

'This could be the third time this has happened,' says farmer as dead horse found tied to gate'This could be the third time this has happened,' says farmer as dead horse found tied to gate

More in this Section

Boris Johnson faces calls to sack controversial Number 10 adviserBoris Johnson faces calls to sack controversial Number 10 adviser

More than 200 Heathrow flights grounded after ‘technical issue’More than 200 Heathrow flights grounded after ‘technical issue’

Coronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship fly home from JapanCoronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship fly home from Japan

Caroline Flack, EU trade talks and Storm Dennis dominate the Monday papers in the UKCaroline Flack, EU trade talks and Storm Dennis dominate the Monday papers in the UK


Lifestyle

When Marisa Murphy went to play as a teenager on Dinish Island, she could still see the flowers growing among the ruins in her grandmother’Islands of Ireland: Barely inhabitated Dinish became an industrial zone

MAC make-up artist Lucy Bridge shares her tips backstage at Roland Mouret.How to create the perfect matte red lip, according to a backstage beauty expert

New trends include chunky heeled boots, silver belts and lots of plaid from the British designer.Victoria Beckham got ‘rebellious’ for her new collection – as David and family watched on

When horses were shown photographs of angry human faces, their hearts speeded up.Jackass penguin talk is similar to humans

More From The Irish Examiner