ELLSWORTH — A major elver dealer said Thursday morning that he will likely face federal charges in connection with his alleged purchase and interstate shipment of eels that authorities say were illegally harvested in South Carolina.
“I haven’t been charged. I haven’t been indicted. But I fully expect to be, knowing that I am part of an East Coast elver investigation,” William Sheldon said Thursday morning during a brief conversation at his Ellsworth buying station.
On April 30 last year, agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maine Marine Patrol and other law enforcement agencies executed a federal search warrant on a room at Jasper’s Motel that Sheldon occupied during the elver fishing season. The search extended to Sheldon’s two trucks parked at the motel and to his home.
“It was a complete surprise,” Sheldon said on Thursday.
Although the search warrant was executed more than a year ago, the affidavit by law enforcement officials on which it was based was kept sealed by the court until Tuesday of this week.
As of Thursday morning, dealers were paying harvesters about $2,100 per pound for elvers. The price was at about the same level a year ago.