4.5 tonnes of cocaine found on a ship carrying 1,750 cows
8 February 2023
On 28 January, the ORION V, a vessel bound for the Middle East from Colombia, was arrested off the Canary Islands: 4.5 tonnes of cocaine were found on board.
After 9 days at sea, the boat was stopped for over 56 hours and a large part of the crew was arrested. The rest of the crew was authorised to go to Algeria, as the animals were not allowed to stay in the European Union.
The 4.5 tonnes of cocaine were disguised as animal feed. National Police and Customs Surveillance Service have suspect that drugs have been transported on board the ORION V since 2020.
The vessel is closely linked to both drug trafficking and animal welfare/human health issues:
In June 2020, during a drug raid, the police noticed 5,000 cattle from Colombia in alarmingly bad condition.
The ship was overloaded and dirty, the animals were emaciated, and some were already dead. They were exported to Egypt without any veterinarian treatment. The drug raid had to be cancelled because the drug dogs could not work due to the ammonia smell.
In September 2021, three workers inhaled a toxic gas emitted from the cattle feed on board the vessel. Two were injured, one died.
Like most livestock vessels, the ORION V is very old and not suitable for animal exports. The makeshift solutions, sharp edges, sloping sides and dirty bedding pose serious dangers to the animals.
The fact that this trade is being targeted by drug smugglers is yet another wake-up call to ban cruel live exports once and for all.
The European Union needs a fundamental change in its agricultural policy. Long-distance transports of live animals must end. Exporting live animals and accepting their cruel slaughter in third countries is not compatible with the values of the European Union.”
Maria Boada-Saña, veterinarian and project manager at Animal Welfare Foundation e.V.
We have obtained the following additional information:
What kind of ship is this?
ORION V (IMO: 7300992) is a Livestock Carrier that was built in 1973 (50 years ago) and is sailing under the flag of Togo.
Her carrying capacity is 4054 t DWT and her current draught is reported to be 6 meters. Her length overall (LOA) is 97.31 meters and her width is 16.24 meters.
I think we have shown in the past that the dairy industry is a grossly sick industry. Cows, which should produce milk for their baby calves have it stolen from them in order to feed humans.
Above – Male Calf in Veal Crate.
In order to produce milk, cows must give birth to a calf. Male calves are generally considered a low-value waste product by the industry and as they do not replace female animals in the dairy herd are usually slaughtered at around five days of age. The RSPCA is concerned about the potential for poor treatment of these ‘bobby calves’ on farm, during transport and at slaughter.
For years in the past, British male calves were exported to Europe to be incarcerated in the dreaded veal crate system. Despite the British government not allowing veal crates to be used in the UK; they were banned due to their cruelty, they did allow British calves to be exported and put into such systems in mainland Europe – was that not hypocritical ? !
Calves are normally separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, mainly to reduce the risk of disease in the calf and to ensure the calf is fed adequate colostrum. Cow-calf separation is a practice which is very stressful for both cow and calf.
The option: dont support the murder of baby calves.
One of the world’s biggest dairy companies, a New Zealand-based co-operative orders an end to killing bobby calves on dairy farms
Fonterra has ordered its farmers to stop killing bobby calves on their farms unless there is a humane reason for doing so. The company said they should be raised for beef or slaughtered for calf-veal or the pet food market.
The federal government is investigating the possible human trafficking of children who cleaned slaughterhouses
There is no indication that the sanitation company is under investigation for trafficking the children who worked there.
Federal investigators are looking into whether 50 children — some as young as 13 — who were allegedly illegally employed cleaning Midwestern slaughterhouses were victims of labor trafficking, three officials from the Department of Homeland Security told NBC News.
Homeland Security Investigations agents have interviewed children who worked cleaning a JBS Foods slaughterhouse in Grand Island, Nebraska, the officials say.
There is no indication DHS is investigating the company that hired the children, Packers Sanitation Services Inc., or PSSI, for human trafficking. Instead, said two DHS officials, DHS is investigating to rule out the possibility that outside traffickers may have forced children to work for PSSI and profited off their labor.
I am pushing this issue of future actions for Viva as in the video you can see the disgusting reality of the dairy industry in the UK.
Viva! Campaigns have uncovered rampant cruelty at Kent’s Home Farm dairy and we need your help to expose the abhorrent reality of dairy farming to the British public.
You may not have heard of Home Farm, but you have heard of Costa Coffee. Home Farm supplies Freshways, who provide milk to Costa Coffee, one of the nation’s largest coffee shop chains.
Viva! Campaigns investigated Home Farm in Kent after a tip-off. We are horrified by what we found there – but what happens here happens on thousands of farms across the UK, every single day. We found cows that were emaciated, lame and struggling to walk, others manhandled, slapped and shoved, and others visibly injured or in shackles.
Below – calf shot in head.
Above – dead calf in wheelie bin.
Above – shackled.
This is modern dairy farming! It’s unacceptable that animals are treated like this in 21st century Britain. Read on to find out how you can help!
Join Viva!’s nationwide Days of Action outside Costa Coffee
On 28 January, Viva! supporters joined in across the nation. Viva! received an incredible response from the general public. I’m hoping you’ll join us on our next Day of Action on Saturday 11 March to reach even more people and help them to swap to plant-based alternatives.
When: Saturday, 11 March 2023
Where: Nationwide outside Costa Coffee
Previous Viva! Days of Action have reached thousands upon thousands of people, encouraging many to make more ethical choices and go vegan. This time, situated outside Costa Coffee branches, from the largest cities to the smallest towns, we hope to change the way every single Costa Coffee customer thinks about dairy.
After all, it is no longer just an innocent little dash of milk when it dashes the innocence of a little calf against the hopeless iron bars of Home Farm.
Taking part in Viva!’s Day of Action against Costa Coffee is simple. Hold your own event outside your local Costa Coffee shop. Just fill out the form below! Read our FAQs further down if you have any questions.
AGRIFISH: some unprogressive Member States try to go “business as usual” on live animal transport
30 January 2023
While EFSA’s scientific opinions and citizens’ demands drive the conversation towards progress on animal welfare, some Member States don’t want to see serious restrictions on live animal transport in the new Transport Regulation. Luckily several voices call for ambitious change, not least the Commissioner’s.
During today’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) several Member States supported an information note tabled by Portugal. The paperstates thatanimal transport is an essential part of the food production chain, and that the primary objective of the upcoming revision of the Transport Regulation should be the continued facilitation of high welfare intra community trade and export of live animals, but not be focussed on measures aimed at prohibiting or limiting certain types of transport.
It’s a completely different scenario compared to July’s 2022 AGRIFISH, when 13 Member States called for an ambitious revision of the Transport Regulation including maximum journey times as well as a shift to a meat and carcass trade.
After the paper was published last week, the Intergroup on Animal Welfare sent an open letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides, asking her to take into account the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT), and to ensure that the proposal, which is expected in October 2023, remains focused on alleviating the suffering of millions of animals due to long distance transports.
Also, during today’s AGRIFISH there were several voices in the room calling for an ambitious revision: The Netherlands was the loudest, clearly opposing the paper and asking for a straightforward ban on live export. Germany, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg opposed the paper too.
“If science and experience tell us that certain practices in transport are detrimental to the welfare of animals, which could also pose a threat to animal health and consequently to human health, I believe and you would agree with me we must find ways to adjust those practices. Doing nothing is not an option. Change is necessary because animal welfare is a key component of our sustainable food production system”, concluded the meeting Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
“Several Member States are backing citizens in their demands for the animals: cruel transport practices need to stop, specifically live export, as we have witnessed far too many tragedies at sea and on the road. It was good to hear even “opposing” Member States mentioning a trade in meat and carcasses, as this is the only way forward. And it was important to hear that the Commissioner was firm in her defence of the revision”, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.
On February 1st it will be the anniversary of the death of Jill Phipps; an animal activist who was murdered at Coventry by a truck carrying live baby calves into Coventry airport for export. I remember it very well as at the time I was entirely involved with animal exports campaigns from the port of Dover, Kent; England.
But the campaigns, protests and anti export feelings at Dover had reached a real fever pitch; as you can see in the following video – a typical day around Dover re live export – and as such, many of the ferry companies which used to take live animal transporters as part of their daily business decided to say ‘no more’ to accepting the trade and thus rejected it. The exporters were becoming isolated with their sordid trade and were trying every port (big or small) in Southern England to get their animals over the water.
Video – a typical protest day at Dover and the surrounding area:
At 27+ seconds you can see a ‘Gilder’ export truck – operated by brother GG Gilder – see Peter Gilder below.
The exporters and hauliers were in utter crisis as Dover port turned its back on the trade and would not accept it – aka people power !, and as a result the export industry had to turn to using other ports in Southern England and other means (ie by air) of getting live animals into Europe.
Also, at the same time, one of the main exporters / hauliers who constantly used Dover, named Peter Gilder, took Dover port to the high court for refusing the trade. The exporters and hauliers wanted to get Dover open again for their trade of death.
In the meantime whilst Dover was refusing the trade, small port towns such as Shoreham, Brightlingsea, and Ipswich were all used (as well as a few others) as trial ports in which the exporters attempted to continue their business.
In this next video you can see the huge public outcry and resultant protests at Shoreham (near to Brighton) about this small port being used for the export of live animals. For each shipment, huge numbers of police from London (the Met police) had to be shipped in to join local police for every export consignment – this is where the saying ‘I’ve met the Met, and got the bruises to prove it’ was originated.
This film below (and dedicated to Jill) follows weeks of daily demonstrations by hundreds and, at times, thousands of everyday people, who converged on a small harbour port in West Sussex, England, to protest and show their disgust about the export into Mainland Europe of thousands of calves, cattle and sheep.
Thousands of young calves were also destined for the veal crates, a system which was already banned in the UK where calves are kept locked into tiny boxes, only able to lay or stand, and are chained or tethered, forced to drink iron deficient milk substitute so as to satisfy those who like their flesh (veal) light rose coloured and tender. This system was already banned in the UK and so farmers were exporting these baby (male) animals to Europe where crating was still legal. How hypocritical !, the UK government banned the crates and then allowed male calves to be exported to Europe for crating !! – it was only the males which were exported, as male calves do not produce milk and thus are not used as replacements in the herd; they are essentially a ‘by product’; one which was used for veal meat production.
The film demonstrates the power of ordinary animal supportive people, when they get together and fight for the rights of those who do not have a voice.
Within weeks, these advocates for animals across Southern England managed to stop in their tracks, the big business who were profiteering from what people saw as a trade in suffering. Other harbour ports across Southern England also saw these exports stopped, due to persistent, big and daily demonstrations. Ordinary folk, from all walks of life, young and not so young, put their own liberty and personal safety at risk to try and protect animals as well as to highlight this issue of live animal exports.
Video – 1995 – the protest at Shoreham.
… and also at Brightlingsea,
Daily protests by the entire town folk of Brightlingsea in Essex against live animal exports in 1995, involved the crazy sight of hundreds of police officers (sometimes in full riot gear) forcing trucks full of sheep through narrow streets against a massive human blockade of outraged local residents. This is as good as people power gets, and the trade was eventually banned.
Video – the battle of Brightlingsea:
It was very hypocritical and involved a government exporting live calves from the UK to be incarcerated into ‘veal crates’, a system which the British had already banned. So here we were, a ban on veal crates, and a government which allowed calves to be exported to the very systems that they had banned – was it any wonder that people were bummed off (to put it mildly !).
Above – crated calves.
The exporters also attempted to air freight animals to Europe. Coventry airport, where our Jill was murdered, was one such airport.
Above – BJ – Calf Exporter, Arms Dealer and Drug Smuggler – all round no good.
The live calf shipments from Coventry airport were operated by a fellow named Barett Jolley (BJ). He was operating an aircraft from Coventry, which crashed in bad weather on the return flight, killing all five crew members. I wrote more about it recently:
After the tragic events at Coventry which included the death of our Jill, BJ was handed a 20 year jail sentence due to his attempted smuggling of £22 million of Cocaine into Southend airport which is on the SE coast of England.
He smuggled arms, he exported live veal calves; he attempted to smuggle drugs into the UK, and yet he was given police protection constantly at Coventry during the calf export protests, at which our dear Jill was killed.
I include another link to Jill which covers several posts you can read at your pleasure if you wish ::
On January 10 2023, an event at the European Parliament was held by the European Institute for Animal Law & Policy and L214 to discuss the future of male chick and female duckling culling. Positive feedback from the policymakers in attendance – as well as general support for and interest in alternatives to the practice – suggest an EU-wide ban could be within our grasp.
Nationally, there have been a lot of victories so far for male chicks in particular.Germany, France and Austria already banned their systematic killing last year – in some instances, following the tireless work of our members and several other NGOs to put the issue in the political spotlight. However, millions of male chicks and female ducklings across Europe are still vulnerable, and EU-wide legislation is therefore required to end the cruelty of this type of culling once and for all.
To explore the potential of a ban further, L214 together with the European Institute for Animal Law & Policy organised an EP event to discuss alternatives to male chick and female duckling culling, and what steps we could take to phase it out across Europe over the coming years.
Envisioning the end of male chick and female duckling culling
Over 100 people attended the EP event both in-person and online, including representatives from COPA COGECA, researchers, and MEPs like Tilly Metz, Caroline Roose and Sirpa Pietikäinen.
Our own Farm Animals Programme Leader, Inês Grenho Ajuda, delivered a talk to highlight the NGO’s asks, as well as the unique opportunity presented by the upcoming revision of the EU’s animal welfare legislation to obtain an EU-wide ban on male chick and female duckling culling. Alternatives to the practice were also discussed like in-ovo sexing: a type of technology that can determine the sex of eggs before they hatch(thus eliminating the ‘need’ for culling). Further alternatives such as the use of dual-purpose breeds and sourcing more plant-based egg options, along with ample evidence to show a ban could be successfully carried out in the EU, has additionally been explored in a brilliant report by Animal Society published recently.
Feedback on the event and the topics discussed was positive. Pietikäinen, who represented the conservative European People’s Party, said she would like to see whether the European Parliament would support a ban on chick culling in the coming months. Independent Portuguese MEP Francisco Guerreiro emphasised that animal welfare will be important in next year’s elections, too, suggesting a ban would be timely.
With the animal welfare legislation to be revised in the coming years and the elections around the corner, now is a critical opportunity to end this horrible process, and implement new and innovative solutions that are devoid of needless pain and suffering.
After an excellent event and promising words from policymakers and the other parties in attendance, we at Eurogroup for Animals are now working on making that happen. Stay posted for updates.