Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Europol Arrests 66 People in Horsemeat Investigation

Europol Arrests 66 People in Horsemeat Investigation

Police estimate the dealer's profits at around $23 million per year. The crime organization is accused of selling affordable horsemeat as expensive beef.

The European police agency Europol said 65 people were arrested in Spain, and the main suspect, a Dutch citizen, was arrested in Belgium.

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.

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".

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 co-operated in the operation.

Tests conducted in Ireland in 2013 found that 29 percent horsemeat was found in some products listed as beef.

Spain's Civil Guard said that the criminal ring acquired horses in Spain and Portugal that were "in poor shape, old, or had been designated "not apt for consumption".

A Dutch businessman was identified as being part of the Irish scandal, but his whereabouts were unknown at the time.

In summer 2016, Spanish environmental authorities found irregularities in the trade of horsemeat, which they found to be incorrectly labeled and exported.

Investigators then uncovered the fact that unwell or old horses were being slaughtered in two different locations in Spain.

The group of criminals got the horses from Spain and Portugal. From there, they were sent to Belgium, which is one of the biggest horsemeat exporters in the European Union. This action was coordinated by the Federal Police, the Federal Food Agency in Belgium and Guardia Civil.

'Nevertheless, this discovery generated social alarm in the affected countries and revealed similar happenings in the majority of European states, ' said the spokesman.

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