Global police dismantle horse meat trafficking network

Horsemeat Scam Leads to 66 Arrests in Europe

Horsemeat Scam Leads to 66 Arrests in Europe

"The criminal organisation forged the animals' identification by modifying theirs microchips and documentation".

A total of 66 people were arrested in the Spanish-led operation, which was carried out in co-ordination with authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the UK.

Horse DNA was discovered in frozen beef burgers sold in a number of British and Irish supermarkets, including four of Tesco's own-brand meat products, in 2013.

The suspects are facing an ongoing criminal investigation led by a court in the northern town of Ponferrada, in the Spanish province of León, into alleged animal cruelty, forgery, money laundering, membership of a criminal organisation and a crime against public health.

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

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As per investigative agencies, the meat was not fit for human consumption.

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

The unnamed Dutchman controlled the crime ring from Calpe in Alicante, on Spain's Costa Blanca, "putting his most trusted men in charge in every country affected by the scam", Europol says.

This marked the start of an investigation to find the origin of the contamination.

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.

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He was subsequently arrested in Belgium.

Horses in bad shape, too old or simply labelled as "not suitable for consumption" were being slaughtered in two different slaughterhouses, Europol says. This action was coordinated by the Federal Police, the Federal Food Agency in Belgium and Guardia Civil.

As reported by The Independent, officials have seized the suspects' bank accounts, luxury cars and properties as part of the investigation. It is by following this trail that the police Spanish were able to reveal the extent of the network.

Samples of horse meat taken during the investigation concluded that the horse meat was destined for markets outside of Spain.

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