Authorities on January 16 stopped a truck illegally transporting 57 live pigs on suspicion of importing them from neighbouring countries for distribution in Phnom Penh.
The truck was stopped by the intervention team for the suppression of animal trafficking and other offences concerning products of animal origin – a unit under the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production – in collaboration with the Phnom Penh municipal Bureau of Animal Health and Production.
Hun Sarath, head of the intervention team, told The Post on January 17 that the live pigs were brought from Kratie province to Prey Veng via tuk-tuk, where they were bought by a second trader.
“He [trader] loaded the pigs onto a truck, with the intention of distributing them in Phnom Penh. He did not have a permission letter to do so, and the truck was detained by the team in Boeung Tompun commune’s Tnot Chrum village of Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district,” he said.
According to Sarath, these pigs were imported, but the team was still working to determine their exact source. The trader collected them gradually before assembling this shipment.
“The offenders and evidence are being held ... while legal procedures are carried out. When the sample result is released, we will take further action. If we discover that these pigs are carrying the African swine flu [ASF], they will be burned. If there is no disease, the trader will be fined according to the relevant laws,” he said.
According to preliminary figures seen by The Post, at the beginning of this year, law enforcement carried out operations that intercepted more than 60 cases of illegally imported meat and live pigs. Nearly 10 cases involved the virus, resulting in the burning of the pig carcasses.
Sarath said that as the Lunar New Year approaches, he has noticed an increase in the number of pigs being trafficked, though his officers have been enforcing the laws strictly.
“We are still working to prevent further smuggling efforts from neighbouring countries. Our teams will never stop investigating banned or unauthorised imports,” he said.
According to Article 113 of the Animal Health Law, importers of animal products from abroad without a permit face a fine of 10 to 15 million riel ($2,500 to $3,750).