A pair of farmers in Australia have been sentenced to prison for their involvement in an elaborate semen racket.
Henning Laue and Torben Soerensen pled guilty to breaking biosecurity and quarantine laws for smuggling Danish pig semen into the country, according to Australia’s ABC News. The traffickers concealed the semen in shampoo bottles and imported it into the country in passenger luggage.
Soerensen, who is a managing director and pork producer at a pork company, received a prison sentence of three years, ABC reports. His production manager, Laue, was sentenced to two years. The company, GD Pork Torben Soerensen, was fined $500,000, but it is facing liquidation.
According to ABC, authorities first got tipped off to the cum-runners in February 2017. Australia Agriculture Department investigators first found emails that mentioned deliveries of “special semen,” then seized and tested hog hair samples, which revealed the pigs were Danish.
ABC reports that Soerensen’s lawyer said his activity was “stupid,” and he called Soerensen the “front man” of a plot overseen by Danish kingpins, who were large investors in Sorensen’s parent company, Pork Australia ApS, which is based in Denmark.
Sorensen reportedly got involved in the scheme in 2012, but the court was told the operation began in 2009.
Judge Troy Sweeney said during sentencing that Laue and Soerensen were influenced by “persuasive” investors, and if the Danish men who were involved in the semen trafficking were in court then they would have been given harsher sentences, reports ABC.
According to ABC, Danish pigs are believed to be more fertile than Australian pigs. Regional Australian newspaper Mandurah Mail reports that Sorensen’s lawyers said the trafficking was a part of a larger scheme to make the company’s boars more fertile over time
“GD Pork imported the semen illegally in an attempt to get an unfair advantage over its competitors, through new genetics,” Australia federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie told the Guardian. “This case shows a disturbing disregard for the laws that protect the livelihoods of Australia’s 2,700 pork producers.”
Mandurah Mail reports that Australian Pork Limited chief executive Margo Andrae shared a statement supporting the sentencing, especially at a time when the Australian industry is concerned about keeping African Swine Flu and foot and mouth disease out of the country.
Millions of pigs have been culled in Chin and Vietnam as the swine flu has spread through Asia in recent months.