Europol and Spanish police arrest 66 in horsemeat scandal

Image DG

Image DG

66 people have been arrested in the operation, which was carried out in coordination with authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

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

The horse meat is once again in the spotlight.

Meat companies, frozen food companies and fast-food companies were affected by the investigation, which led to the identification of a Dutch citizen known in the horse-meat world, although his whereabouts was unknown at that time.

The operation covered more than half a dozen European countries.

Investigators looking into "unusual behavior" in horse meat markets are said to have uncovered an operation run by an organized crime syndicate in Spain in which old and neglected horses were slaughtered and sold as meat overseas.

Europol said that the Spanish Guardia Civil's environmental protection service initiated Operation Gazel after unusual behaviour was detected in horse meat markets.

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

'The meat was distributed in different ways but mainly sent to Belgium, the largest exporter of horse meat throughout the European Union, ' said a police spokesman.

"The investigation revealed the existence of an organization which acquired horses which were in bad condition and old and not apt for consumption and sacrificed them in two specific slaughter houses", a spokesman for the Civil Guard added.

It has emerged Jan Fasen is languishing in jail in Spain after being arrested and extradited from Belgium.

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

The investigation eventually led the Civil Guard to the Dutch meat trader, who had initially been involved in the beef burger scandal and was based in Calpe, Spain.

Spanish police helped dismantle a network suspected of putting horsemeat unfit for human consumption into the food chain and making a profit of €23m a year.

During the searches at the slaughterhouses and facilities, several samples were taken.

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