Europol says 66 arrested in horsemeat scandal investigation
Europol says 66 arrested in horsemeat scandal investigation
Unfit for human consumption At least 66 arrested in European horse meat scam
17 July, 2017, 15:25
All in all, " seventy-five people have been arrested and prosecuted for crimes such as animal abuse, the production of fakes, or damage to the public health, money laundering and belonging to a criminal association", said Europol in a press release.
A Dutch national has been arrested in Belgium and authorities suspect that he is the mastermind behind the operation.
The Guardia Civil worked in cooperation with police in Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the Netherlands, the statement added.
Horse DNA was discovered in frozen beef burgers sold in a number of British and Irish supermarkets, including four of Tesco's own-brand meat products, in 2013.
Investigators found the meat to contain the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone.
The spokesman explained that officers launched a full-scale probe, called Operation Gazel, after detecting "atypical signs in the horsemeat trade" a year ago.
The Dutch suspect oversaw operations from Alicante, Spain, and had a network of "his most trusted men in charge in every country affected by the scam". Other charges include committing crimes against public health.
Various bank accounts and real estate have been blocked and five new high-end vehicles seized.
After falsifying paperwork and substituting microchips used to identify the horses, the animals were slaughtered and the meat shipped to Belgium.
In the summer of 2016, an operation was uncovered by Spanish authorities who noticed that horses in bad shape, too old or simply labelled as "not suitable for consumption" were being slaughtered in two different slaughterhouses.
The documents and chips for identification of animals, from Portugal and north Spain, were falsified.
Samples of horse meat taken during the investigation concluded that the horse meat was destined for markets outside of Spain.
Total EU horsemeat imports in 2012 came to 50,250 tonnes and exports 54,853, while EU beef imports in 2011 totalled 315,000 tonnes and exports - 510,200.
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