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Horsemeat trading group taken down by police
Published:  17 July, 2017

An investigation, linked to the horsemeat scandal, has led to the arrest of 66 people and the dismantling of a horsemeat trading ring.

The investigation, led by the Spanish Guardia Civil and in co-ordination with Europol, was set up in the wake of the discovery of horsemeat in beef products in 2013.

Operation Gazel resulted in the identification of a Dutch businessman related to the Irish beef burger contamination, who was based in Alicante, Spain, as well as the group’s activities across Europe.

The operation, which had ties to Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, has led to the arrest of 66 people. The majority of those (65) were arrested in Spain and charged with crimes such as animal abuse, document forgery, perverting the course of justice, crimes against public health, money laundering and being part of a criminal organisation.

The arrest of the leader of the criminal group was carried out in Belgium, and was coordinated by the Federal Police, the Federal Food Agency in Belgium and Guardia Civil.

As a result of these arrests, several bank accounts and properties were blocked or seized, and five luxury cars seized.

During the searches at the slaughterhouses and facilities, several samples were taken. The results concluded that the destination of the horsemeat was mainly outside of Spain, due to the fact that the samples in Spain matched those found abroad.

Three men alleged to be involved with the 2013 horsemeat scandal are currently on trial in the UK.