- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Seven people have pleaded guilty to federal charges of trafficking nearly $2 million worth of baby eels on the East Coast.

The pleas took place between Tuesday and Thursday at federal court in Portland. Six pleaded guilty to selling or transporting illegally harvested elvers in interstate commerce.

Elvers can only be fished commercially in Maine and South Carolina and are one of the country’s most lucrative fisheries on a by-the-pound basis. They are sold to Asia and used for sushi.

The six who pleaded guilty to selling or transporting the elvers were Yarann Im, Mark Green, John Pinkham, Thomas Reno, Michael Bryant and George Anestis.

Thomas Choi pleaded guilty to exporting elvers that he knew had been harvested illegally.

The charges carry a maximum of five years in jail.

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