Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

Europol Arrests 66 People in Horsemeat Investigation

Europol Arrests 66 People in Horsemeat Investigation

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.

According to the Financieele Dagblad, Fasen has an earlier conviction for selling cheap Argentine horse meat to Muslims as halal beef.

Authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Britain and Spain participated in the operation that resulted in the arrested of about 65 people, who were reportedly major players in the food scam which involved the meat being sold in Ireland.

The horses came from Portugal and Spain and were slaughtered at an unspecified location.

Europol announced that eight nations co-operated in the operation.

Spanish officials estimate that the profits from the illegal meat could reach €20m a year. Ten million burgers were eventually taken off shelves before sales falling sharply by 43pc.

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 French supplier, Comigel, which supplies products to customers in 16 countries, was at the time implicated in the scandal.

A spokesman for the Civil Guard said officers launched a full-scale probe called Operation Gazel after detecting "atypical signs in the horse meat trade" last summer.

"Although they were distributed in different ways, their meat was mainly prepared in an industrial plant and sent from there to Belgium, which is the European Union's leading meat exporter".

Investigators searched for the origin of the contamination and tracked it to the Dutch man. Europol added that it had seized bank accounts, properties and luxury cars in the course of the investigation.

Police say the group altered the identity of the horses by replacing their microchips or falsifying their passports.

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