By Lynne Tuohy
New Hampshire Fish and Game officers have two men in custody and two buckets of baby eels as evidence of what they say is part of an international eel-poaching operation believed to be driven by a worldwide shortage of eels. Two brothers from Maine — 35-year-old Justin Kinney of Mount Vernon and 29-year-old Matthew Kinney of Bremen — are charged with taking eels without a harvest permit and taking glass eels less than 6 inches long.
Matthew Kinney also is charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and disobeying a conservation officer. Officials say the younger Kinney fled with a handcuff fastened to one wrist, leading officers on a pursuit that involved dogs and a helicopter before he was apprehended at a hotel hours later.
Fish and Game Lt. Michael Eastman said only two states on the Eastern seaboard — Maine and South Carolina — allow fishing and sale of baby eels, and both require permits.
Eastman said two of his conservation officers were tipped that the brothers would be netting the baby eels in the Hampton Falls River and moved in to apprehend them shortly after 5 a.m. Friday.
‘‘We knew what they were doing and went to make the arrests,’’ Eastman said.
Eastman said the brothers were compliant at first, then resisted arrest. Justin Kinney was cuffed immediately but his brother fought one of the conservation officers, fell into the river and fled through the marshland, Eastman said.
A state police helicopter searched from above and police dogs tracked Matthew Kinney until police finally caught up with him in a room at the Hampton Falls Inn, where the brothers were staying. More....