A seafood dealer gets serious prison time for illegal eel laundering AP Photo/ddp/ Philipp Guelland

A seafood dealer in New York is in deep water after illegally trafficking more than $150,000 worth of baby eels.

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Tommy Zhou, 42, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced in a federal Virginia court last week after pleading guilty in April, according to the Virginian-Pilot. He will head to prison for 1 and 1/2 years.

Also called elvers, the tiny eels are sold to Asian companies — sometimes at as much as $2,000 per pound — so that they can raise the eels to sell as a food delicacy.

The eels are legal to harvest in Maine and South Carolina — with tight restrictions guiding the practice. Zhou reportedly had a Maine dealer license that helped to cover-up his malfeasance.

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Attorneys for the man declined to comment.

Anna Caplan contributes to Rare Houston and Rare Animals. 
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