Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Las Tramas del cristal negro: el tráfico de angulas se sofistica

Las Tramas del cristal negro: el tráfico de angulas se sofistica

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“Suculenta”, “Suculencias”, “Black Glass” and “Abaia” are the names of the great operations that the Seprona of the Civil Guard has carried out against the illicit traffic of eels, in a route that shows the each Greater sophistication of the “business”, parallel to the growing interest of the Chinese client. From “Suculenta”, developed in 2012 by the Central Operative Unit of the Environment (UCOMA) of Seprona, to “Abaia”, exploited last March, the dish has been the same, the precious angula.

To reach the table in China, the “cooks”, ie the traffickers, have been complicating the “recipe” to create perfectly structured frames, with a financial architecture that has nothing to envy other criminal organizations, as emphasized by chief captain of the UCOMA, José Manuel Vivas. The “chef” of one of these organizations – a company from Tarragona – already fell in 2012 in operation “Suculenta” and fell again in the last, the “Abaia”. And along the way, he has added ingredients to the main dish base, illicit traffic, which has seasoned with money laundering, screen companies, documentary falsification and crime against wildlife, all under the structure of criminal organization.
“Now we can talk about the plot,” said the captain of Seprona, who remembers that a “diner”, the Chinese market, has served as a spur to organizations to maintain a growing illegal activity.

All this with detriment to the species to the main ingredient, since the traffic of eels is decimating the population of this fry and in 2010 the European Union had to establish a zero quota for its export, a decision that renews year after year. Meanwhile, CITES (the international convention of threatened species of fauna and flora that assures that its trade does not threaten its survival) has included the species in its Appendix II. Precisely because of this control, the price of the product rose, the Chinese paid more and more and some traders saw in it a reef, has verified the UCOMA.

In fact, in the first operations of this unit the quantities detected diverted to the illicit trade were small, as the 530 kilos that in 2012 were located in a container in the Barcelona airport. Up to the ninth, the agents did not discover them because they tried to camouflage them, among others, of small males, fish of little value that they declared, but to those who adjudged a higher price to “bulge” the invoices and to launder the profits of the angulas, whose sale outside the EU is totally prohibited.

A form of whitening that, moreover, did not raise suspicions in Customs, that it would distrust if the quantities to declare were very small.
As everything that happens through Customs can not be controlled, in case the alleged traffickers did not ask for the delivery note, they used it for other occasions. That is, with a legal bill covered 3 or 4 illegal shipments, explains Captain Vivas.

Step by step, organizations have been progressing in the cooking of their “modus operandi” to obtain from their stews the most juicy results, to the point of having a financial architecture in which there is no shortage of screen companies and more sophisticated modes of bleach.
Thus, in the case of the last operation the Spanish plot did not hesitate to ally itself with other cooks, some Greek entrepreneurs who received the goods after having passed, inserted in trucks specially equipped with a kind of swimming pools, by Barcelona, ​​from there in ferries to Italy, country that crossed from west to this terrestrial way, and again by sea to Greece. Already in the Hellenic country, the entrepreneurs were left with a small number of eels, which became fattening to eels, and sold them to their Spanish partners to give it the appearance of legality. Another form of whitening, since they declared much less than what they brought; almost everything was water.

Because the Greeks sent the bulk of the merchandise received from Spain to the Chinese customers, after passing through Hong Kong.
Both, emitters and receivers, obtain with this activity greedy benefits. In the case of the first, the Spaniards, the gain per kilo of (illegal) angle can be 1,000 euros once the 300 or 400 that pay the poacher fisherman and another 100 of “management”, since they sell it to the Chinese to about 1,500 euros against the 500 of the legal market.

Meanwhile, to the receiver this contraband also comes to mind. One kilo of eels contains 3,000 specimens. In the event that 500 died in transit, there would be 2,500 per kilo, which would become 1,250 kilos of eels, that is, already fattened and stripped of head and thorns.
Its sale, already packaged and smoked, is at 60 euros a kilo, which means that 1,250 kilos of eels (which originally was a kilo of eels) would give a gross profit of 75,000 euros. Discounted expenses, as little, underlines Vivas, the net profit would be about 25.