Australian cops bust baby formula ring
SYDNEY: Six people have been charged after the Australian authorities uncovered a multi-million-dollar crime syndicate stealing baby formula and vitamins from major retailers across Sydney for shipment to China, police said yesterday.
Four members of one family and two other men have been arrested and charged over the "organised criminal group" that New South Wales Police believe has operated for several years.
Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said investigators were still probing where the products were being sold, but alleged that so far, "thousands of shipments of baby formula were sent to China".
Premium baby formula, vitamins and honey from Australia are sought after in China, where consumers are fearful of lax food safety standards that have resulted in deaths.
The investigation kicked off in February last year after police received reports of thefts from Sydney retailers.
Investigators said they searched two Sydney homes in August and seized 4,000 tins of baby formula, "large quantities" of vitamins, Manuka honey and more than A$215,000 (S$210,000) in cash.
Supt Doherty said police estimated around A$1 million worth of powdered milk was stolen in just the past 12 months. - AFP