Basel border guards nab meat smugglers

Basel border guards nab meat smugglers
Photo: Swiss customs administration
Border guards in Basel arrested two men attempting to smuggle more than 300 kilograms of non-refrigerated meat into Switzerland in a van from Germany, Swiss customs administration officials said on Tuesday.

The men, two Somalis living in Switzerland, were caught with 151 kilograms of sausages, 110 kilograms of chicken legs, 57 kilograms of lamb and large quantities of poultry-burgers.

The meat was wrapped in plastic and packed into cardboard boxes, customs officials said.

The two men were checked at a small border crossing in Riehen, a municipality in the canton of Basel City, on December 7th, officials said.
Customs said the meat, which was spoiled, was destined for resale by a family farm business in German-speaking Switzerland.

One of the Somalis had earlier been caught smuggling cooking oil and wheat flour to the farm.

“The two detainees were surprised at being stopped because obviously they did not expect to be checked at this small crossing,” Patrick Gantenbein, of the Basel customs office said, according to a report from the Basler Zeitung newspaper.

It was not clear how many hours the meat had not been refrigerated.

But Gantenbein said “the meat was unappetizing . . . liquid was deposited in the bags”.

Customs destroyed the contraband.

Unrefrigerated transport of meat is banned in Switzerland because of the potential health hazards.

Customs said the Somalians faces charges and fines of several thousand francs.

Significant differences in the price of food in European countries and Switzerland have proved tempting to smugglers, particularly since the Swiss franc has risen in value against the euro.

And Basel appears to be one of the favorite points of entry.

In July, customs nabbed a Frenchman attempting to transport 1.4 tonnes of non-refrigerated beef from Holland across the border at Riehen in his Mercedes van.

In May, customs officials in Basel caught a man trying to carry 1.5 tonnes of ham and cheese across the border, also in a van.

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