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.
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 ::
Lambs transported from Eastern Europe to Italy face gruelling journeys this winter
Essere Animali Investigation
Several roadside checks have been carried out by our member organisation Essere Animali in the Gorizia area, northeast Italy. Seven trucks from Eastern Europe were identified transporting animals in overcrowded conditions, without proper watering systems, or adequate partitions and heights for transport.
As the Christmas season approaches, the number of trucks importing lambs into Italy from Eastern Europe rises, with long, gruelling journeys for the animals.
Last year, in the days leading up to Christmas, more than 600,000 lambs were slaughtered in Italy (source: National Livestock Registry Database), which is about a quarter of those slaughtered per year, and of these, one in four is imported from abroad.
The lambs range in age from not even 2 months to 3 months old, transported mainly from Romania and Hungary to slaughterhouses located mainly in Latium and Apulia, enduring journeys that could last from 24 to 30 hours.
In recent days, Essere Animali carried out an inspection of live animal transport trucks at the border between Italy and Slovenia, documenting the conditions of 7 four-floor trucks, with insufficient heights that did not allow the animals to stand upright, leading to several problems, including restricted movement. The lambs’ heads were touching the top floor of the compartment, a condition that can cause bumps, bruising and injury, as well as not allowing adequate ventilation.
Activists from Essere Animali also found:
Overcrowding: densities were too high, it is impossible for all the animals to reach the watering systems positioned only on one side, with the risk of them stepping on each other in case someone wants to sit down to rest;
Dangerous gaps: lambs get stuck in gaps created between floor and wall or interior partitions and shelves;
Inadequate beverage systems: they were found to be inactive during transport, only activated during travel breaks, and some were not functional anyway. Moreover, even when functional, they were not suitable for lambs since due to their young age they are unable to use them.
The inadequate and unsuitable watering system is a prime example of the current regulatory gaps, which, combined with the high transport densities, cause suffering and thirst in lambs, putting them at serious risk of dehydration.
These are conditions also denounced by Essere Animali in Easter 2022 and for which the organisation had managed to get sanctions issued under the Legislative Decree No. 151 of July 25, 2007, which provides penalties for violating the provisions of European Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.
In 2021, only 3% of trucks carrying lambs from Romania were checked. The same fate also befell the one million cattle transported from France and the more than 800 thousand pigs that arrived from Denmark, with 4.6% of consignments checked. Of the more than 66 thousand live animal consignments that arrived in Italy, only 152 sanctions were imposed.
The control activities of Essere Animali also aim to document the conditions of transports that, while complying with current regulations, present critical aspects for animal welfare and highlight the need to implement European laws that better protect animals during the delicate phase of transport, which often causes animals additional stress and suffering.
The European Commission is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of laws on animal husbandry, transport and slaughter, with the aim of aligning them with the latest available scientific data, expanding their scope and ensuring a higher level of animal welfare. The new legislative proposal is expected in 2023, and Member States can play an important role by supporting an ambitious proposal for the protection of farmed animals.
We will inform the European Commission and the Minister of Health of the outcome of the inspections we carried out at the border again this year, providing images that document an alarming reality. The European Regulation, besides being frequently violated, is not able to protect animals concretely, and this is the most serious fact that shows how important the revision of the legislation is.
Today it is legal to transport lambs as young as two months old for journeys lasting up to 30 hours, subjecting them to conditions that generate them great stress and suffering. Together with other NGOs from across Europe, we are calling for greater protections, such as banning the transport of live animals over long distances, decreasing travel hours, and banning the transport of unweaned animals.
The European Commission has a chance to really improve conditions for animals. Do not betray the demands of your citizens!
We wish New Zealand Premier Jacinda Ardern the very best for the future; and say ‘Thank you’ to her and her government for being the first nation which introduces official legislation to stop the export of live animals. Thank you Jacinda.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill to ban live export has passed its third and final reading in Parliament in Aotearoa (New Zealand)!
The live export of cattle, deer, goats and sheep from New Zealand by sea will stop on 30 April 2023.
Now all eyes are on Australia to follow suit.
News reports suggest the New Zealand government delivered a letter to the Chinese Embassy on 31 March signalling the end of the trade.
New Zealand announced a ban on live exports, which will see the trade being phased out over a two-year period, stopping 30/4/23.
SAFE, an animal rights organisation in New Zealand that has long campaigned for a ban on live exports, praised the Government’s decision to ban all live exports by sea for cattle, sheep, deer and goats for slaughter, fattening and breeding.
This decision followed a government consultation to which we submitted a briefing, highlighting the suffering inherent in the practice and explaining viable alternatives, including reducing journey times and exporting semen instead of live animals.
New Zealand’s announcement drives home the point that the welfare of farmed animals can and should be a top priority. Now it time for the UK to follow suit and implement a ban on this awful practice. Whilst making its way through Parliament at the moment, the British people are hearing endless government excuses as to why things are taking time; not enough time for further debate etc, etc. Great to see that New Zealand stepped up to the plate and passed all the legislation without all the excuses and delays as seen in UK government.
Hopefully this year, 2023; we will see all legislation passed in the UK which will also ban the export of live animals. This will then put huge pressure on the EU and also Australia to stop the sordid trade involving mass suffering to millions of sentient live farm animals.