POLICE in central China have caught 16 suspects for allegedly manufacturing and selling a banned food additive – clenbuterol, or “lean meat powder” – worth 30 million yuan (US$4.6 million).
Police in Hunan Province said they uncovered the case after nabbing three distributors in Longchang County last June. The distributors revealed they bought the chemical from Cao Zhongsheng, who ran an illegal animal feed factory in Jiangxi Province, China Central Television reported on Wednesday night.
Police found that Cao’s factory, in an industrial park in Nanchang City, was basically an underground workshop that was producing tainted pig feed with the illegal chemical. They busted the factory and caught Cao as well as his workers last October.
According to Cao, he bought clenbuterol from Luo Fan, a major distributor from Zhejiang Province. Police were able to track down Luo, who used nearly 20 identity cards and often changed dwellings to conceal his real identity. He was arrested in March.
Luo said he bought the chemical from two manufacturers – Chen Qiuliang in Zhejiang, and a woman surnamed Zhang from Heilongjiang Province.
Chen, 45, was arrested on March 22. He said he started manufacturing the chemical from 2008 with an investment of 5 million yuan. Chen hired some 20 workers and rented a factory in Zhejiang. Business boomed and he soon had buyers in nearly 16 provinces.
The chemical was sold at 1,200 yuan per kilogram and Chen said he made a profit of some 200 yuan per kilogram.