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Three suspects in a high-profile food safety case have been arrested in Fujian province, and police are still looking for nearly 40 metric tons of inedible pork, Chinese media reported on Sunday.
Two of the suspects, a 44-year-old woman surnamed Lin and a 33-year-old man surnamed Wu, were detained on March 15 when they were transporting dead pigs by truck, Strait News, a newspaper in Fujian, quoted police sources in Zhangzhou, Fujian, as saying.
Police officers found seven tons of dead pigs in the truck, it added.
The driver, a man surnamed Hong, was also detained.
According to police, Lin and Wu confessed they have sold nearly 40 tons of pork, which was cut from ill and dead pigs, to meat processors in Guangdong, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces since January.
Fujian police are investigating how Lin and Wu transported the pork and who they sold it to, the report said. They hope to find the meat before it is eaten.
Lin and Wu were farmers in Zhangzhou's Nanjing county and hired by a local township government to collect ill and dead pigs and dispose of them using bio-safety techniques.
Lin began to produce pork products in August using the pigs she collected and made huge profits. In January, Wu joined her business. They built a freezer compartment that could store up to six tons of pork, according to police.
They also hired three workers from Henan province to cut the dead pigs and package the carcasses.
The two collected dead pigs that local residents discarded and purchased them from farmers.
They were caught after Zhangzhou police received a report in March that someone was storing sick pigs in a freezer at Xiexin Frozen Foods.
Officers searched the company's freezer and found more than 25 tons of pork that later tested positive for two swine diseases.
The manager of the company's freezer has been arrested, police said, adding they have also discovered that Lin was involved in another ring suspected of collecting and trading dead pigs carrying diseases. Authorities are investigating the case and searching for the pork.