Chinese police have broken up a large criminal network selling sick and dead pigs across the country's 11 provinces and regions, a trade worth 100 million yuan (US$16.3 million).
Police targeted 11 criminal gangs and swooped on more than 30 hideouts, arresting 110 suspects, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
At the end of 2013, police in Shaoyang, Hunan province, started to investigate a case on purchasing and processing sick and dead pigs. Police not only uncovered a criminal gang, but also a larger network involved in the trade.
In order to close down the illegal network, police departments from 11 provinces and regions, such as Hunan, Hen-an and Guangxi, worked together on the investigation.
Police have seized more than 1,000 metric tonnes of meat, and 48 tonnes of gutter oil made from the sick and dead pigs, according to the ministry.
China has launched a series of supportive policies and measures for farmers to encourage pig breeding, and ensure a stable supply of pigs. Under the pig raising insurance system, farmers can receive compensation if their pigs become sick or die. Such pigs should be collected and treated in a safe way under strict supervision.
However, police said these criminal gangs started to purchase sick and dead pigs from farmers at low cost through information from insurance personnel.
They were accused of colluding with some officials at local supervision departments to gain the related quarantine certification, which allowed these sick and dead pigs to be sold through the regular selling channels.
According to police, the insurance personnel have been sent for prosecution for complicity while the supervision staff involved in the case have been sent to inspection authorities for abuse of power.
Since August 2011, the ministry has launched a campaign to crack down on illegal selling of sick and dead pigs and poultry. More than 4,600 cases have been detected.
The ministry said it plans to establish a long-term working mechanism against the illegal selling of sick and dead pigs and poultry to ensure food safety.