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Arrested in Transnational Horse Meat Probe

Arrested in Transnational Horse Meat Probe

Horses in Portugal and Spain deemed unfit for consumption were slaughtered and their meat passed off as edible.

The Civil Guard representative claimed that the scammers changed the identity of the horses by substituting their microchips and or falsifying animal passports.

The Civil Guard said that the profits from the illegal meat could reach €20m a year.

The horsemeat scandal first surfaced in January 2013, when food inspectors in Ireland found horsemeat in ready-made burgers sold by British supermarket chain Tesco.

Several EU nations were involved in the food scam operation which reportedly took several months to organize, with Spain, the U.K., France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and Romania involved.

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

The operation covered more than half a dozen European countries.

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Last summer, police noted "unusual behaviour" in the horse meat market and arrested the original ringleader in Belgium although he was living a "discreet" life in Alicante.

In particular, they have observed a scam to put on the market of meat from horses in bad health, too old or unfit for consumption. The horses came from Portugal and Spain and were slaughtered at an unspecified location. From there, they were sent to Belgium, which is one of the biggest horsemeat exporters in the European Union.

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

"From there he maintained business interests in activities that he already controlled in northern Europe", the representative said.

"This person managed this network from the shadows using men of confidence in each of the territories in which it was present".

Europol says a further 65 suspects were arrested in Spain and are facing charges for a series of crimes, including animal abuse, crimes against public health, perverting the course of justice, document forgery, being a part of a criminal organization and money laundering.

As reported by The Independent, officials have seized the suspects' bank accounts, luxury cars and properties as part of the investigation.


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