Two West Australian pig farmers have been sentenced to prison after smuggling Danish pig semen hidden in shampoo bottles.
Torben Soerensen, pork producer and managing director at GD Pork, has been sentenced to three years of prison and Henning Laue, production manager, has been sentenced to two years, after pleading guilty to multiple charges of aiding the illegal importation of pig semen over several years, ABC Rural reports.
The illegal semen racket occurred between 2009 and 2017, resulting in more than 2,000 piglets, the report said. The semen, collected from Danish board, was smuggled into Australia through passenger luggage and used at a Pinjarra piggery.
The presence of illegal genetics was confirmed by investigators after seizing hair samples from 100 pigs, verifying their genetics with the Pig Research Centre in Denmark. Reports say the illegal semen resulted in more than 2,000 piglets in Australia.
According to ABC Rural, Soerensen’s lawyer said his actions were "stupid" and, as sole proprietor of GD Pork, he had been the "front man" of a grand scheme carried out by Danish investors.
Judge Troy Sweeney said Soerensen and Laue were influenced to offend by persuasive overseas investors. However, the threat to biosecurity and quarantine laws were “too serious, too blatant, and too sustained” to ignore, she said.
Since 1995, Australia has not allowed any permits to import pig genetics because of the biosecurity risk, especially the potential spread of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS).
This sentence comes on top of outbreaks of African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease throughout the world that could devastate Australia’s $5.3 billion pork industry if introduced in their hog herd.
Federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie said, “This case shows a disturbing disregard for the laws that protect the livelihoods of Australia’s 2,700 pork producers, and the quality of the pork that millions of Australians enjoy each year.”
GD Pork, which had piggeries at Kojunup, Pinjarra and Australind, was one of Western Australia’s largest pork producers before Danish investors withdrew their investment soon after the charges. GD Pork was fined $500,000, but in September 2018, GD Pork went into liquidation. It was acquired by Westpork in January. Westpork now holds a 45% share of Western Australia’s pig producing market.
Soerensen will be eligible for release after 18 months good behavior and Laue after eight months.
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