Almost two metric tonnes of beef smuggled to the north from the Republic were seized from supermarkets in the Kyrenia district on Thursday night.

The meat was discovered and seized as part of a joint operation between the Turkish Cypriot police and the north’s customs department, with the offending supermarkets located in the town of Kyrenia and in Karavas.

In total, exactly 1,987.7 kilograms of beef and 67.1kg of lamb were located and taken as evidence.

Three men, two of whom are aged 31 and one who is aged 38, were arrested as a result.

Meat prices in the north are considerably higher than in the Republic, leading Turkish Cypriot consumers to buy meat products south of the Green Line and, seemingly in increasing frequency and amount, illegally take it back to the north.

Earlier this month, a man was fined after being caught at the Ayios Dhometios crossing point attempting to smuggle 143kg of red meat from the Republic to the north, while a similar sting at the Pergamos crossing point and the nearby village of Lysi uncovered 140kg of beef smuggled from the Republic.

Turkish Cypriot butchers have found themselves squeezed by their rising costs and shrinking consumer base, and slaughtered two lambs in protest at the situation in January.

They demanded the north’s ‘government’ “find a solution which would allow meat to be sold at a price range in line with the prices in the Republic of Cyprus.

“We are currently seeing our own citizens travel to the Republic to do their shopping. This has brought vendors, who have been crushed under the weight of economic difficulties, to the point of bankruptcy, meaning they cannot cover basic expenses like their electricity bills or rent,” they said.

They added, “we are throwing away meat we cannot sell because it stinks, and as a result animal slaughter has hit rock bottom,” and that while the crisis is worsening, “the government is acting as if everything is rosy.”