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Dozens arrested in Spain for Europe-wide horsemeat scam

Dozens arrested in Spain for Europe-wide horsemeat scam

Some 66 suspects have been arrested as part of a crackdown on an worldwide ring trading illegally in horsemeat across Europe, the European Union police organization Europol reported on Sunday.

The suspects have been public health violations, money laundering, forgery and animal abuse, among other crimes.

An unidentified Dutch businessman arrested in Belgium is suspected of controlling the illegal trade from southwest Spain.

Several EU nations were involved in the food scam operation which reportedly took several months to organize, with Spain, the U.K., France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and Romania involved.

The scandal was first seen in January 2013, after Irish food inspectors tested ready-made burgers sold by the U.K. Tesco supermarket chain in that country and found them to contain horsemeat.

He had put deputies in charge in the various countries, with the Spanish part of the organisation only being part of the Europe-wide operation.

Other charges brought against those arrested were perverting the course of justice and committing crimes against public health.




Spain's Guardia Civil police force began their investigation in 2016 after detecting "unusual behaviour" in horsemeat markets.

The animals came from Portugal and several places in northern Spain, their meat was processed in a specific facility.

The group is suspected of having modified the horse's microchips and documentation to pass off the meat as edible.

They detected a scam whereby horses in bad shape, too old or simply labelled as "not suitable for consumption" were being slaughtered in two different slaughterhouses.

Investigators searched for the origin of the contamination and tracked it to the Dutch man.

Bank accounts, properties and luxury cars were seized as part of the investigation.

People in Italy and France are the biggest consumers of Equidae - the "taxonomic" family of horses and related animals - according to a report by the Guardian in 2013.


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