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Vietnamese mother-daughter pair detained for smuggling African swine fever-infected pork

Incident marks first time ASF has entered Taiwan since 2018 outbreak in China

Over 71 kilograms of smuggled meat products have been destroyed. (Central Emergency Operation Center photo)

Over 71 kilograms of smuggled meat products have been destroyed. (Central Emergency Operation Center photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The New Taipei District Prosecutors Office has detained a Vietnamese mother and daughter following their admission of guilt for smuggling controlled items, CNA reported on Monday (Aug. 23).

After receiving reports of African swine fever (ASF) found in smuggled pork on Thursday (Aug. 19), the Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) for the disease immediately launched an investigation to prevent the spread of infected pork, the agency said in a statement. A total of 71.8 kilograms of meat products, including sausages and ham, were seized in New Taipei’s Xinzhuang District and subsequently destroyed on Friday (Aug. 20).

The accused, surnamed Dang and Nguyen, admitted to a number of crimes, including smuggling and importing controlled items, importing smuggled tobacco, smuggling prohibited items requiring quarantine, and tax evasion. Considering the pair's nationality and their spread-out clientele, the prosecutor's office detained them to prevent them from destroying evidence, colluding on an alibi or the facts of the case, committing additional crimes, or fleeing the country.

The CEOC said in a press conference on Sunday (Aug. 22) that aside from continued collaboration across government departments to enforce border control and quarantines, the Customs Administration will work with the New Taipei City Police Department to investigate the supply chain. The Food and Drug Administration and Council of Agriculture (COA) will also launch investigations within the market to find any illegally imported meat products, while the Environmental Protection Administration will audit pig farms that use food waste in cooperation with the COA and local governments.

In a Facebook post, President Tsai ing-wen (蔡英文) reminded citizens of the importance of ASF prevention, as Taiwanese pig farmers suffered devastating losses 20 years ago due to foot-and-mouth disease that had entered Taiwan through smuggling.

After receiving reports of the ASF outbreak in China in August 2018, the Taiwanese government immediately implemented strict policies to prevent the disease’s entry and was successful at keeping it out. Travelers and their luggage, packages, and goods arriving in Taiwan from high-risk countries have had to go through rigorous inspection.

According to the Customs Administration, the accused had attempted to import around 200 kg of meat products in the past two weeks, half of which were moon cakes. The three common ways of importing pork are through travelers’ luggage, mailed packages, and air deliveries.

In China, pork prices have soared to unprecedented heights as a result of the ASF pandemic, contributing to inflation that caused the consumer price index in China to increase by over 4%. A quarter of the world’s pigs have been slaughtered due to China’s ASF outbreak, and China has not contained the spread of the disease.

Updated : 2021-10-23 21:37 GMT+08:00