14 people have been arrested for illegally smuggling 5,000 tons of irradiated seafood into China, some of which originated from Fukushima, Japan.
Over the last two years, the smugglers sold seafood worth 230 million yuan ($34.5 million) to markets that included Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, reported the Qingdao Customs District.
According to CCTV, some of the seafood actually originated from Fukushima, one of 12 Japanese prefectures from which seafood imports are banned due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor incident.
Chinese authorities became suspicious of the high-end seafood products being sold at heavily discounted rates. The seafood shipments were also listed as originating from Japan, Russia, and the USA, but were entering China from the southwestern province of Guangxi.
The smugglers went to extreme lengths to evade taxes and avoid quarantine, said Li Fudong of the QCD Anti-Smuggling Department. The long, circuitous route began in Hokkaido, Japan before being transported to Guangxi and Shandong Province. In some cases the seafood entered China from Vietnam in order to deflect attention. Along the way, the smugglers changed the packaging and altered catch dates.
A man named Wang who headed a seafood import and export company in Shandong was targeted as the chief culprit by authorities. Although the importers were stationed in the provinces of Fujian, Guangxi, and Liaoning, Wang operated his business year-round from a US-based location with transactions that involved underground money exchangers.
Wang was arrested upon entering China on June 24. Other members of the smuggling ring were rounded up in Shandong, Fujian, Guangxi and Liaoning.