He drove a super-sized pickup truck with "EEL WGN" plates, carried a bank bag stacked with cash and, as long as you had a bucket full of elvers, William "Billy" Sheldon didn't care where they came from, according to documents unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.
In a 42-page search warrant affidavit, federal wildlife investigators allege that for two years, Sheldon traveled between South Carolina and Maine buying and selling illegally harvested elvers, the tiny baby eels that fetch astronomical prices overseas.
Sheldon has not been charged in the case.
The sprawling investigation dates to 2012, and includes undercover agents posing as fishermen, clandestine eel deals made in truck-stop parking lots and secretly recorded conversations in which Sheldon flouted federal rules for the high-priced fishery, which bar the shipment of wildlife across state lines for the purposes of a sale, according to the affidavit.
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