Police smash Europe-wide horsemeat racket

Police smash Europe-wide horsemeat racket

Police smash Europe-wide horsemeat racket

The group of criminals got the horses from Spain and Portugal.

They worked in coordination with authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the UK.

The suspect was later identified as the ringleader of an operation investigated in 2016 in which horses unfit for human consumption were being killed in two abattoirs in northern Spain and then sent to Belgium after their paperwork and microchips were altered.

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.

65 people arrested in Spain have been charged with crimes including animal abuse, document forgery, perverting the course of justice, crimes against public health, money laundering and being part of a criminal organisation.

In some cases products which were labelled as beef were up to 100 per cent horse meat.

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A scam which saw horse meat served up as beef burgers in Britain has been busted after 65 people were arrested in a Europe-wide operation.

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. From there he allegedly led the activities of the organisation, putting his most trusted men in charge in every country affected by the scam.

The police investigation was coordinated by the Federal Police, the Federal Food Agency in Belgium and Guardia Civil.

A Dutch businessman arrested in Belgium is said to have controlled the illegal trade from south-west Spain.

Global police have dismantled a horse meat trafficking network with ramifications that stretch to Portugal.

A spokesman said: "As a result of the police operations, several bank accounts and properties have been embargoed and five recently-purchased high-end vehicles seized". The results concluded that the destination of the horse meat was mainly outside of Spain, due to the fact that the samples in Spain matched those found overseas.

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