Chinese criminals have been flying drones onto farms and infecting perfectly healthy pigs with African swine fever, lowballing the farmer for their sick pigs, and then selling the tainted meat as healthy, according to SCMP, citing China Comment - a magazine affiliated with state news agency Xinhua.
In some cases, the gangs have spread rumors about the virus which is not deadly to humans - but causes hemorrhagic fever in pigs which is almost always fatal.
Sometimes they spread rumours about the disease spreading in the locality and may even leave dead pigs on the side of a road to make farmers believe the infection is spreading. -SCMP
In more extreme cases, however, the gangs use drones to drop infected items into the farms.
"One of our branches once spotted drones air dropping unknown objects into our piggery, and later inspection found [the] virus in those things," said one farm manager.
Once the sick pigs have been acquired by the gang, they are then smuggled to other areas with sky-high pork prices, violating a ban on transporting pork or livestock between provinces, and sold for a profit as high as $143 per pig.
In Yunnan, a southwestern province, authorities have intercepted the transport of more than 10,000 live pigs - some of which were infected with the virus. According to the report, one gang smuggled 4,000 pigs from a province in one day.
It said that smugglers had been bribing inspectors and faking quarantine certificates to smuggle the animals across provincial borders.
In one such case in Lichuan, a city in the central province of Hubei, the disease spread through the area after a vet forged certificates for infected animals.
The smugglers are trying to profit from a spike in prices that has seen the cost of meat rise from about 20 yuan per kilogram to a high of 52.30 yuan last month. -SCMP
In October, China's Ministry of Agriculture reported that the country's pig herd had collapsed 41.1% YoY. According to Rabobank, that figure could rise to 50% - 55% by the end of the year.
As we have documented, the price of Chinese pork has risen accordingly.
"However many pigs you have, we are taking them all," said one meat dealer.
In #Malaysia, canned luncheon meat from #China was found infected with African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.— W. B. Yeats🎅🏻 (@WBYeats1865) November 1, 2019
Malaysia has banned all pork products from China.
Some *smart* Chinese: "So many dead pigs, what a waste...oh yes, we can make SPAM!"#BoycottChina https://t.co/uweDc65nhT pic.twitter.com/fwowJUTpzN