Swiss customs uncover blackmarket animal drugs scam

Among the drugs seized were hormones that increased milk production in cows. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

More than 200 farmers, many in Switzerland, are suspected of buying illegal medicaments for their livestock from a French blackmarket dealer. Swiss customs uncovered the scam when the veterinarian was stopped at the border with his car full of animal drugs.

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Swissmedic, the body that authorises medicaments in Switzerland, has issued 51 penalty notices including fines, according to the SonntagsZeitung newspaper. Farmers under suspicion bought around CHF11,000 ($11,300) worth of drugs every year for up to half the price they pay in Switzerland.

The scale of the smuggling operation came to light when the French vet was stopped at the Swiss border in May 2018. Besides animal drugs, customs officials seized two mobile phones and a laptop containing 27,000 customer invoices.

The medicaments included antibiotics and hormone treatment that increases the amount of milk that cows produce. Some of the 200 French and Swiss suspects who bought the drugs are registered as organic farmers.

As a result of the find, police investigations have been opened in both France and Switzerland.

The newspaper also uncovered messages between Swissmedic and the farmers under investigation. “We have used these products correctly, the problem is the excessive prices in Switzerland,” wrote one of the famers who has been fined – who is also a local politician.

“We expect farmers to abide by the law. We clearly condemn illegal drug imports,” said Sandra Helfenstein from the Swiss Farmers’ Association.

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