Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

History of recent police operations against glass eel trafficking

During international operation ‘Thunderbird‘ several police interventions against glass eel trafficking were recently conducted. Here is a brief history including links to official sources and media publications:


  • 24.03.2012 – Summary of the previous operation ‘Suculenta’ carried out in 2012 Guardia Civil
  • 21.05.2016 – Summary of the previous operation ‘Black Glass’ carried out in 2016 Guardia Civil
  • 17.01.2017 – Japanese video report about glass eel trafficking from Taiwan via Kinmen to Hong Kong NHK World
  • 18.01.2017 – 520kg were seized by douanier de Gironde. A Spanish citizen was caught with 520kg in Saugnacq-et-Muret, destinated for Thailand (transit?). read here on
  • 04.02.2017 – Spanish Guardia Civil arrested several people including a major trader in Cataluna and seized huge amounts of glass eels. Read more on,
  • 06.02.2017 – Spanish citizen were accused for illegal fishing of glass eels in the Guadalquivir river, Andalusia. Read more,
  • 05.02.2017 – 45kg glass eels worth 18.650EUR were seized in Portugal
  • 06.02.2017 – French customs seized 140kg at Paris airport, destinated for Thailand (transit?). Read more on
  • 07.02.2017 – Greek authorities arrested several people including a major trader in Greece. Read ENG translation
  • 07.02.2017 – British citizen plead guilty and fined to pay 675 pounds for illegally fishing for glass eels
  • 08.02.2017 – People are accused for glass eel poaching in France. Read more on
  • 15.02.2017 – French authorities checked 50 fishermen and 7 collectors on 10 and 14 February
  • 02.03.2017 – UK Boarder Force’s role in Operation ‘Thunderbird’
  • 03.03.2017 – Man caught with 600,000 live glass eels worth £1.2 Million on 15 February The Guardian, Evening Standard, The SUN
  • 03.03.2017 – Release of the Heathrow-seized eels in Guadalquivir river, Spain. Watch VIDEO
  • 08.03.2017 – EUROPOL and GUARDIA CIVIL estimate that >7t of glass eels were annually traded from Spain towards Asia Guardia Civil
  • 08.03.2017 – Seventeen arrested for smuggling glass eels worth EUR 7 million from Europe to China Guardia Civil (eng) Guardia Civil (spa)
  • 08.03.2017 – Smuggling of glass eels valued at EUR 10 million: 17 arrests EUROJUST
  • 08.03.2017 – Seventeen arrested for smuggling glass eels worth EUR 10 million EUROPOL
  • 08.03.2017 – Newspaper article reveals details on smuggling route
  • 08.03.2017 – Trafficking route from Spain via Italy and Greece to Hong Kong SEG post
  • 08.03.2017 – Dismantlement of an international organization devoted to the illegal trade in elvers/ baby eels SEG post
  • 08.03.2017 – Report about police operation ABAIA on Watch VIDEO
  • 10.03.2017 – Man arrested for poaching glass eel at Canal de la Martinière in Pellerin
  • 12.03.2017 – The slippery world of eel smuggling, Europe’s illegal and booming trade SEG post The Telegraph
  • 14.03.2017 – Elver dealer indicted on charges of buying, selling illegally caught eels
  • 16.03.2017 – Feds accuse Maine man of trafficking in poached baby eels
  • 18.03.2017 – Accelerated restocking of eels
  • 21.03.2017 – Hiromi Shiraishi (TRAFFIC) about eel trafficking from a Japanese conservation perspective WWF Japan
  • 22.03.2017 – French authorities including the newly founded Agency for Biodiversity (AFB) arrested poachers and seized 300kg glass eel during the last month