Police smash Europe-wide horsemeat racket

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

© AFP/File THOMAS
SAMSON


Madrid (AFP) – A Spanish-led European police investigation has
broken up an organised crime group that allegedly sold horsemeat
across Europe that was “not suitable” for human consumption,
officials said Sunday.

Police in Spain arrested 65 people suspected of crimes including
animal abuse, document forgery, public health violations, money
laundering and being part of a criminal organisation, Europe’s
policing agency Europol said in a statement.

The suspected leader of the group, a Dutch national, was arrested
in Belgium, it added.

Spain’s Guardia Civil police force began their investigation in
2016 after detecting “unusual behaviour” in horsemeat markets.

“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,” Europol said.

The horses came from Portugal and northern Spain and their meat
was processed at an unspecified location from where it was sent
to Belgium, one of the biggest horsemeat exporters in the
European Union. 


przewalski horses
A
herd of endangered Przewalski horses are seen at the Takhin Us
National Park in the southwest part of Mongolia, July 16,
2012.

Reuters/Petr Josek
Snr


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

The meat was sold across Europe and may have earned the group
over 20 million euros ($23 million) per year, Spanish police said
in a separate statement.

The Guardia Civil worked in cooperation with police in Belgium,
Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the
Netherlands, the statement added.

Spanish police seized five luxury cars as part of the
investigation and blocked several bank accounts.

The investigation stems from a British horsemeat scandal in 2013
when frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets were found
to contain horse DNA.



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