Baby formula-theft gang busted

China | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 22 Jan 2019

Six people have been charged after Australian authorities uncovered a syndicate stealing baby formula and vitamins from retailers across Sydney for shipment to China.

Four members of a family and two other men have been arrested and charged over the "organized criminal group" that New South Wales police believe has operated for several years.

Investigators had found "thousands of shipments of baby formula were sent to China," detective superintendent Danny Doherty said.

Premium formula, vitamins and honey from Australia are highly sought after in China, where consumers are fearful of lax food safety standards.

The investigation started in February last year with reports of thefts from Sydney retailers. Officers searched two homes in August and seized 4,000 tins of formula, "large quantities" of vitamins, honey and a stash of cash.

The latest arrest was of a 31-year-old man on Saturday after he arrived from China.

"We anticipate further arrests," Doherty said, adding that police estimated powdered milk worth around A$1 million (HK$5.61 million) was stolen in 12 months.

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