28 March 2018 – 17:19 by Paulo Moreira Mesquita
Translated by google itools. Please click here for original article
The Food and Economic Security Authority (ASAE), through its National Information and Criminal Investigation Unit, made yesterday the largest seizure registered in Portugal in the “Operation SARGAÇO” – about 600 kg (drained weight) in the amount of approximately one million euros.
This operation was designed in October 2017, following police information on the drug trade in Portugal. Throughout the months (between November and March), 26 arrests of Asian citizens were made at the Lisbon and Porto airports (in collaboration with the Tax and Customs Authority) for the crime of damages against nature, in total, about 390 kg, of this species protected by the CITES Convention.
Following these arrests, a national investigation was carried out during the last four months, culminating yesterday in Aveiro and Coimbra, in the execution of 18 search warrants to elements believed to be part of an organized network that, using to illegal fishing of the baby eel (which occurs in various parts of the country), agglomerated, prepared and sent to the East, where the value can reach up to 10,000 Euros per kg.
It is planned to correlate the investigation of this network with other ongoing investigations, as well as investigations still taking place in Spain.
In the execution of the warrants, two Asian citizens, who had already been detained at the airports for being “couriers”, were again found in possession of the protected species, in the warehouse managed by the network (where the 32 live tanks were).
In yesterday’s searches, 598 kilos of baggage, four computers, eight mobile phones, two tablets and all the articles used in the preparation, maintenance and dispatch of the living impression were analyzed: 149 travel bags, a cleaning pump, 39 tanks, seven scales, 17 chambers, 56 nets, 30 compressors, five freezing chests, 21 thermal insulation rolls, 160 double plastic bags (specific for oxygen / air injection), three compressed air bottles and a fishing net.
In the searches, a firearm (shotgun) with 131 ammunition (caliber 12) and about 32,000 Euros in cash was also seized.
The seizures made in the searches carried out yesterday, amount to an approximate value of 1,050,228.00 Euros.
The searches were accompanied by the Institute for Nature Conservation, which intervened as CITES experts.