Jiangsu police have arrested 27 people for smuggling about 300 tons of beef from Brazil into the country, the China News Service reported as news emerged that a ban on Brazilian meat imports would soon be lifted. Food safety officials began investigations in January after a tip-off about beef from questionable sources being put on sale at prices far below the market rate. The raw beef, sold at a market in Guanyun county, Jiangsu, was priced at just 22 yuan per jin. Market price ranges between 30 and 40 yuan per jin. The authorities found that the beef came from Brazil through illegal channels and that eight suppliers in Xuzhou city, Jiangsu, and Guangzhou, Guangdong, were involved in the illicit import. About 300 tons of the beef were seized and 27 people arrested in connection with the case. Charges have been pressed against 12 of them; the rest remain under investigation. The import of Brazilian beef into China has been banned since December 2012 in response to a case of mad cow disease reported in the southern state of Parana. In May, Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture confirmed a second case of the illness. Jiangsu police said the illegal traders started operating soon after the ban was imposed, but were not discovered until earlier this year because of their cautious sales practice. They would take orders for the smuggled beef only by phone and dispatch a driver to deliver the beef after receiving money via bank transfer, police said. Brazil expects to resume exports of its meat products to China and Saudi Arabia before the end of the year, Brazilian authorities announced last month.