The Council of Agriculture and the Miaoli County Police Department on Thursday uncovered the largest ant smuggling case this year, finding 36 nests of ants belonging to three different genera.
The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health, Inspection and Quarantine said it received a tip-off that foreign species of ants were being sold online.
It forwarded the information to the National Police Agency, the bureau said.
Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times
Bureau staff were present when Miaoli police detained a person for allegedly contravening Article 15 of the Plant Protection and Quarantine Act (植物防疫檢疫法), it said.
The article bans the import of any species that could harm agriculture, the ecology, and the physical safety and health of Taiwanese.
Transgressors could be sent to prison for up to three years and fined up to NT$150,000, the bureau said.
The bureau said that in February it also reported a case of ant smuggling in Changhua County.
The case involved an auction of a carpenter ant queen, which was sold for NT$3,200, the bureau said.
The auction host was indicted for contravening the act, it added.
Bureau Deputy Director Tsou Hui-chuan (鄒慧娟) urged the public not to breach the law by importing foreign ant species, because of the damage they could do.
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