A seafood salesman accused of smuggling $7 million worth of endangered baby eels has been sentenced

A seafood salesman accused of smuggling $7 million worth of endangered baby eels has been sentenced
Glass Eels, Anguilla Anguilla

National Crime Agency

  • A seafood salesman smuggled $7 million worth of eels into the UK. Now, the salesman, Gilbert Khoo, faces a two-year suspended sentence over related charges.
  • Khoo was accused of smuggling almost 4 tons of illegal species across international borders before he was arrested at Heathrow Airport in February 2017.
  • The endangered species of eel found in the seized shipment was released back into the wild.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A seafood salesman in the UK received a two-year suspended sentence Friday for six offenses related to the transport of $7 million worth of endangered eels, according to the National Crime Agency.

Gilbert Khoo, 67, of Parbury Rise, Chessington, smuggled 5.3 million "glass eels" or Anguilla Anguilla into the UK from Spain, a press release from the National Crime Agency said. The more than 400 pounds of live eels were en route to East Asia at the Heathrow Airport when Specialist Border Force officers discovered the fish hidden under a shipment of fresh fish.

Complimentary Tech Event
Transform talent with learning that works
Capability development is critical for businesses who want to push the envelope of innovation.Discover how business leaders are strategizing around building talent capabilities and empowering employee transformation.Know More

"The risk to our country's aquatic animal health posed by illegal trade such as this cannot be underestimated," Enforcement and Investigations Fish Health Inspector at Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Jon Hulland, said. "In this case the severity of the offence is compounded by the fact that the trade is in a critically endangered species.

The shipment was set to be sent to Hong Kong on February 12, 2017, according to the NCA. Khoo was arrested at Heathrow Airport on February 23, 2017. Paperwork officials found in Khoo's home show he had smuggled rare species between February 2015 and February 2017.


During the two years Khoo allegedly dealt in the illicit trade, the total value of the rare species was nearly $70 million for more than 400 pounds, the release said.

"Gilbert Khoo was attracted to the millions of pounds he could make smuggling elvers (eels) through the UK," NCA Senior Investigating Officer Ian Truby said. "But, it's a risky business trying to move illegal commodities through our borders. His entire operation has now been shut down."

The eels were released into the wild after they were confiscated.

NOW WATCH: How running shoes can be recycled into ski boots