Europol says 66 arrested in horsemeat scandal investigation

Image DG

Image DG

The crime group modified microchips and documentation.

The operation against the food scam reportedly took several months to coordinate, as authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Britain and Spain took part in it.

Investigators looking into "unusual behavior" in horse meat markets are said to have uncovered an operation run by an organized crime syndicate in Spain in which old and neglected horses were slaughtered and sold as meat overseas.

In Spain itself, 65 people were arrested and charged with crimes such as animal abuse, document forgery, perverting the course of justice, crimes against public health, money laundering and being part of a criminal organisation, Europol said in a statement. The gang is accused of taking old or unwell horses and slaughtering them for their meat, then selling it on as prime beef.

In particular, they have observed a scam to put on the market of meat from horses in bad health, too old or unfit for consumption.

The main suspect in the case was later arrested in Belgium, Europol added.

The origin of the investigation, the Guardia Civil Spanish had detected irregularities on the market for horse meat.

He was subsequently arrested in Belgium.

The police investigation was coordinated by the Federal Police, the Federal Food Agency in Belgium and Guardia Civil.

Spanish Civil Guard went public with new details about their involvement in the dismantling of a network suspected of putting horsemeat not apt for human consumption into the food chain and making a staggering POUNDS 20 million-a-year profit.

Police carried out raids in both Alicante and Leon, in the north of Spain, blocking or seizing bank accounts and properties, and confiscating five luxury cars.

Europol has worked actively in all necessary actions, including coordination, first contact with other affected countries in order to initiate investigations, and summoning and supporting all involved agencies for coordination and analysis meetings in The Hague, where all the information was studied and processed.

Analysis of samples conducted in The Hague concluded the meat was destined mainly for markets outside Spain, as the samples matched others found overseas.

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