Europol Arrests 66 People in Horsemeat Investigation

Illegal horse meat sellers dismantled as police zone

European police are said to have dismantled an organised crime group that was trading horsemeat "unfit for human consumption".

The arrests were made throughout Spain in an operation in conjunction with crime-fighting organisation Europol and developed in coordination with several European Union countries including Britain and Belgium following the 2013 food scare.

They worked in co-ordination with Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the UK, Europol said in a statement.

He has been sought since a scandal in the Republic of Ireland in March 2013 when horsemeat was found in beef burgers.

Investigators found the meat to contain the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone.

Spain's police, as part of Operation Gazel, carried out raids in Alicante and Leon in northern Spain.

The 65 other individuals were arrested in Spain and face a series of charges.

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SPANISH AUTHORITIES HAVE arrested 65 people for their involvement in a horsemeat criminal operation, as part of an investigation which was sparked by Irish authorities four years ago.

After falsifying paperwork and substituting microchips used to identify the horses, the animals were slaughtered and the meat shipped to Belgium. Ten million burgers were eventually taken off shelves before sales falling sharply by 43pc.

A French supplier, Comigel, which supplies products to customers in 16 countries, was at the time implicated in the scandal.

The origin of the investigation, the Guardia Civil Spanish had detected irregularities on the market for horse meat. The meat was then sent to Belgium and later supplied to other parts of Europe.

"The investigation revealed the existence of an organisation which acquired horses which were in bad condition and old and not apt for consumption and sacrificed them in two specific slaughter houses", he said.

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".

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