Prosecutors in Kaohsiung City indicted nine men involved in an attempt to smuggle purebred cats into Taiwan, and recommended that four receive heavy sentences for masterminding the operation that led to the euthanizing of 154 felines.
The four main suspects include a fishing company owner, Mr Cheng, 56, the owner of a pet breeding farm, named Lin, 42, a retired Coast Guard officer, named Chang, 50, and a friend of Chang’s, named Kuo, 49. The five other indictees consisted of two Taiwanese nationality, and three Indonesian crew members of the fishing boat “Shun Fa 886”.
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against the nine, and recommended that the four masterminds be handed heavier sentences under the Smuggling Penalty Act. The maximum punishment under the Smuggling Penalty Act is seven years in jail and a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$107,600).
Prosecutors requested a heavy penalty on the grounds that the smuggling case could have led to a serious breach in epidemic prevention, endangering the lives of people and animals, as well as affecting the pet market in Taiwan. The estimated value of the rare breeds, which included Russian Blue, Ragdoll, Persian, American Shorthair, Maine Coon, and British Shorthair, totaled an estimated NT$1.96 million (US$70,300), according to prosecutors.
The smuggling operation was sophisticated, with the local operatives cooperating with dealers in China. The boat was modified to incorporate hidden spaces with air-conditioning to transport the live animals.
On August 19, the boat was intercepted by the Kaohsiung Squadron of the Coast Guard offshore of Tainan City.
Animal lovers were shocked and saddened when the animals were euthanized by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Bureau, August 21.
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