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Two Indonesian soldiers found to be smuggling dozens of porcupines

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China bans meat imports from Canada after discovery of counterfeit pork health certificates

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China bans meat imports from Canada

The Chinese government has said it will temporarily block the importation of meat from Canada after customs authorities discovered a batch of pork accompanied by as many as 188 counterfeit veterinary health certificates.

Investigators in China launched a probe after a shipment of Canadian pork products was found to be contaminated with residue of restricted feed additive ractopamine, which is used to promote leanness in farm animals and has been banned in several countries.

While outlawed in China and the European Union, ractopamine is still used widely across North America, despite the fact that the additive has been linked to adverse effects in pigs, and that its effects on human health remain relatively untested.

The decision to block meat imports from Canada was made immediately after the ractopamine residue was found, Chinese customs authorities said, adding that their counterparts in Ottawa believe the forging of the veterinary health certificates may constitute a criminal offence.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Canada said: “These forged certificates were sent to the Chinese regulatory authorities through Canadian official certificate notification channel, which reflects that the Canadian meat export supervision system exists obvious safety loopholes.

“In order to protect the safety of Chinese consumers, China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China since June 25.

“We hope the Canadian side would attach great importance to this incident, complete the investigation as soon as possible and take effective measures to ensure the safety of food exported to China in a more responsible manner.”

In response, as spokesperson for the Canadian government said the discovery of the counterfeit certificates had been referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for investigation, while the country’s Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau confirmed that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had been in touch with its Chinese counterpart in reaction to the forgery allegations.

“CFIA is investigating this technical issue and has informed appropriate law enforcement agencies. This incident is specific to export certificates to China. Export certificates to other countries are not affected,” Bibeau said.

The incident comes at a time when diplomatic relations between the two countries remains strained after Canadian police arrested a senior Huawei executive at the beginning of December last year.

The Associated Press reports that China has renewed a demand in the wake of meat imports revelations that Ottawa approve the immediate release Meng Wanzhou, who is currently fighting extradition to the US in relation to allegations that she violated sanctions on Iran.

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US Coast Guard seizes over 3.5 tonnes of smuggled garlic from traffickers’ boat in Caribbean

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A US Coast Guard vessel has returned from a patrol of the Caribbean after its crew members intercepted a garlic smugglers’ boat.

During a two-month tour that saw officers inspect international vessels throughout the Caribbean basin, Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant stopped a go-fast vessel that was found to be illegally smuggling more than 3.5 tonnes of garlic from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

In a statement, the Coast Guard explained how garlic smuggling is a rising problem across the globe and has had a negative impact on the agricultural industry in the Dominican Republic over the past few years.

After being informed of the discovery of the smuggled garlic, the Dominican government sent a navy ship to meet the Vigilant and take the traffickers into custody to prepare them for prosecution.

The smuggled garlic was estimated to be worth around $30,000 and was the largest seizure of its kind ever made by the Coast Guard.

As well as impounding the smuggled garlic, the Vigilant’s 59-day mission also saw officers return 50 migrants from Haiti back to their home country after disrupting a dangerous and illegal attempted sea crossing.

In May last year, it was reported that Thai customs officials, the country’s Commerce Ministry and its military had come together to tackle a large rise in the trafficking of garlic from neighbouring countries, a phenomenon that was causing the domestic price of the commodity to slump.

It was suspected at the time that organised criminal gangs were smuggling large quantities of garlic into the country from nations such as China, where it costs significantly less to produce than it does in Thailand.

Last November, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that police in Thailand had arrested two alleged smugglers who were attempting to traffic red onion and garlic across the Mekong River from Laos.

In total, the illicit shipment of vegetables weighed more than 2.8 tonnes and was estimated at the time to be worth some £3,000.

Two Thai truck drivers were detained on suspicion of smuggling the onions and garlic.

The smuggling of garlic has become a major issue for economies in Southeast Asia and Europe, which have been targeted by gangs trafficking huge shipments of the plant from China, which was estimated to be responsible for 72.8% of global garlic exports in 2016.

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Global food fraud crackdown results in seizure of goods worth $117 million and arrest of 672 suspects

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Fake food and drink products estimated to be worth $117 million have been seized during a global coordinated crackdown on food fraud coordinated by Interpol and Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordination Centre.

Law enforcement officials taking part in the latest instalment of Operation Opson, which is intended to target criminals involved in the sale of counterfeit and substandard food and drink products, also arrested 672 individuals across the world.

Taking place between December 2018 and April this year, Operation Opson VIII saw police, customs officers, food regulatory authorities and private sector partners in 78 countries target individuals and organisations involved in the growing global food fraud trade.

Investigators participating in the effort successfully removed approximately 16, 000 tonnes and 33 million litres of potentially dangerous fake food and drink from global supply chains after collectively carrying out over 67,000 inspections at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.

Authorities contributing to the operation reported discovering cheese and chicken products labelled with fraudulent expiry dates, drink products that had been adulterated with controlled drugs, and meat that was stored in unsanitary conditions.

In Zimbabwe, police confiscated more than 14,000 litres of soft drinks that contained high levels of the active ingredient in erectile dysfunction medication, while investigators in Belarus impounded more than 60 tonnes of apples that were being transported under forged documentation.

Law enforcement officers in Russia seized 4,200 litres of counterfeit alcohol as they shut down an illicit vodka production site, while their colleagues in South Africa detained three suspects in connection with the discovery of alcohol meant for export that had been repackaged and sold domestically to avoid taxes.

Elsewhere, customs investigators in Italy seized over 150,000 litres of poor-quality sunflower oil that fraudsters had attempted to pass off as extra virgin oil by adding chlorophyll and beta-carotene to the finished product.

Revealing the results of the latest Opson operation in a statement, Interpol Director of Organised and Emerging Crime Paul Stanfield said: “Counterfeit and substandard food and beverages can be found on the shelves in shops around the world, and their increasing sale online is exacerbating the threat that food crime poses to the public.

“Operation Opson VIII saw a substantial amount of counterfeit food and drink taken out of circulation, but there is much more that can be done.

“Interpol calls for further efforts and better coordination at the national, regional and international levels in order to stem this tide which endangers the health of consumers worldwide.”

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