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Horsemeat Scam Leads to 66 Arrests in Europe
17 July 2017, 02:04 | Austin Hogan
The operation covered more than half a dozen European countries
Europol says the horses came from various places in northern Spain or Portugal and their identification was forged by modifying their documentation and microchips.
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.
They face charges of animal abuse, documentary falsification, prevarication, crimes against public health, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.
According to the Financieele Dagblad, Fasen has an earlier conviction for selling cheap Argentine horse meat to Muslims as halal beef.
Horses in Portugal and Spain deemed unfit for consumption were slaughtered and their meat passed off as edible.
The EU's police agency Europol said the unnamed Dutchman led the operation from Calpe in Alicante, on Spain's Costa Blanca, where he put "his most trusted men in charge in every country affected by the scam".
Authorities allege horse meat was being sold that was unfit for human consumption
"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.
This marked the start of an investigation to find the origin of the contamination.
It said the arrest of the leader of the criminal group was carried out in Belgium. This action was coordinated by the Federal Police, the Federal Food Agency in Belgium and Guardia Civil.
In total 66 individuals were arrested or investigated.
Several bank accounts and properties have been frozen and five high-end cars seized as a result.
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. The investigators then determined the organization was involved in more countries than Spain. The results concluded that the destination of the horse meat was mainly outside of Spain, due to the fact that the samples in Spain matched those found overseas.
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