Police have conducted more raids against a criminal network suspected of illegally trapping king crab and selling the crabs nationwide. The network is believed to have generated tens of millions of kroner in illegal revenues.
Several locations in eastern Finnmark were targeted between Thursday evening and Friday morning. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Friday that several new suspects were undergoing questioning on Friday, while the number of those charged has hit 14 in Finnmark alone, and around 20 nationwide.
Police wouldn’t comment on this week’s raids. They earlier have said that the crab is believed to have been sold illegally in nearly every county in Norway. Other raids have taken place in both Southern- and Eastern Norway in addition to Finnmark and Troms in Northern Norway.
Police have made several arrests and seized both equipment and cash, along with several tons of king crab. Once believed to be a pest that moved into northern Norwegian waters from Russia, king crab is now a delicacy that sells for more than NOK 500 per kilo in Norwegian grocery stores and fish markets.
“The king crab we’ve seized seems to have been frozen immediately after trapping and then packed,” Torstein Pettersen of the Finnmark Police District told NRK. “Then the crab was sent to warehouses around Finnmark, where it was put into packaging, picked up by delivery trucks and sent south.”
Police think the network marketing the illegally trapped king crab has been operating for at least 10 years. Former fisheries minister Helga Pedersen, who most recently has been a local politician for the Labour Party in Finnmark, is shaken by the illegal crab trapping.
“This is just terrible, and it puts lots of jobs in danger,” Pedersen told NRK. “There’s also clearly very large sums of money and value that have avoided taxation. That hurts the entire welfare state.”
She’s unhappy that fish dealers may have been willing to buy what she called “black market seafood.” Police said those involved in the alleged network have sold the crab via social media and to both restaurants and fish markets.