ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Even people who think caviar is worth dying for might lose their appetite when it's stored in a hospital morgue.
But that's where St. Petersburg police found a huge stash of the delicacy this week -- 385 pounds stored in the refrigerated space where cadavers are kept.
A morgue employee and a businessman were arrested after the Wednesday discovery, but police said Friday the matter is still being investigated and it is unclear if the men will be charged.
The arrested men said the caviar was to be a treat for hospital employees at a New Year's party.
Caviar consists of unfertilized eggs from sturgeon, a widely endangered fish. Amid heavy restrictions on sturgeon fishing, caviar is increasingly produced and sold illegally.
In the run-up to New Year's, one of Russia's most lavishly festive holidays, police have made a series of other seizures of caviar.
A day after the morgue discovery, St. Petersburg police said they seized an additional 220 pounds intended for illegal sale at local markets.
On Friday, the Interfax news agency reported that border guards in the eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv confiscated 249 cans of caviar worth almost $22,000 that was allegedly being smuggled from Russia to Ukraine.
In the far eastern region of Khabarovsk, a vehicle inspection turned up 1,100 pounds of caviar, leading police on a weeklong investigation, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported. They raided a village home on Friday and found another 57 pounds.
At two different spots along the Amur River basin, police found 47 sturgeon carcasses and 2.5 tons of live sturgeon. Sturgeon fishing in the Amur basin is prohibited.