3 more firms charged over smuggling

3 more firms charged over smuggling

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has filed charges against three more companies suspected of being involved in smuggling pork and falsifying documents.

Thanadol Suwannaritr, deputy chief of the ministry’s Nakaraja Task Force, said yesterday his team had found an additional three companies linked to the scheme. They are among 11 firms now being investigated by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

He said the three companies had falsified documents by declaring their shipments to be products related to marine fish. But when the authority opened the containers, it found a large quantity of pork inside.

The team filed a complaint with the Central Investigation Bureau for further investigation.

Mr Thanadol said the firms are facing three charges: giving a false statement to the authorities, falsifying documents, and violating the Computer-related Crime Act BE 2550 (2007).

He said the team had expanded its investigation to include an additional 21 shipping containers at Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri province last December. The containers were seized by the Customs Department as the owners of the shipment had failed to present all the required documents.

The Department of Fisheries and the Department of Livestock Development worked together to check the documents and found that at least 20 had been falsified by the three companies.

Some of those documents were related to animal health certification, but the product cited according to the country of origin was different from the product inside the containers.

“We will keep working to abolish any acts of illegally importing pork. More updates will be released shortly, showing links with the mastermind of the operation. We have collaborated with other agencies to boost our work for better results,” Mr Thanadol said.

The ministry has been investigating illegal imports of pork that occurred from 2021 to 2023 when the country was facing a pork shortage.

Last year, local authorities confiscated 76,000 tonnes of smuggled pork found in 161 shipping containers, leading to a wider investigation.

The case was then submitted to the DSI, which subsequently issued arrest warrants for executives from at least eight companies.

The ministry has also set up a committee to investigate any authorities suspected of involvement.