66 people arrested in Spanish horse meat investigation

Andrew Cummings
July 17, 2017

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

The Dutchman was arrested in Belgium in April, and police also carried out raids in France, Portugal, Italy, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Meat from the animals, which came from Portugal and several parts of northern Spain, was processed and sent to Belgium, a major horsemeat exporter.

In 2013, the horsemeat scandal was exposed in Europe after Irish authorities uncovered horsemeat in products marked as beef burgers.

"In Spain, 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 organization", 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.

Investigators found the meat to contain the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone.

The leader of the criminal group, a Dutch national, was arrested in Belgium as part of the operation, but Europol believe that the Spanish group is just a small part of his overall trading reach.

An official for Spain's Guardia Civil inspects a slaughterhouse in Spain.

In 2016, the Guardia Civil's Environmental Protection Service "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", Europol said in a release.

In total 66 individuals were arrested or investigated.

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.

Several bank accounts and properties have been frozen and five high-end cars seized as a result.

The results concluded that the destination of the horsemeat was mainly outside of Spain because the samples in Spain matched those found overseas.

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