How Maine came to play a central role in an international eel smuggling scheme

Years after officials launched an investigation into baby eel poaching on the East Coast, the first of several men to plead guilty to participating in the wildlife trafficking ring was sentenced last week in a federal courtroom in Maine. Michael Bryant, 40, a former Baileyville resident who now lives in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, is one of more than a dozen men who the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says poached thousands of pounds of the baby eels, also known as elvers or “glass” eels, from 2011 through 2014. Since 2011, elvers on average have fetched around $1,500 per pound for fishermen, and netted more than $4 million total for the 12 convicted poachers who have pleaded guilty to federal charges in South Carolina, Virginia and Maine. Maine found itself at the center of a criminal enterprise that illegally netted elvers along the Atlantic seaboard, where most states ban their harvesting, and then shipped the eels overseas to feed East Asia’s voracious seafood appetite, according to investigators. click here to read the story 14:43