Europe horse meat scam: At least 66 people arrested

Posted: Updated:

BRUSSELS (AP) - Authorities have arrested at least 66 people in a European food scam which sold horse meat unfit for human consumption.

European Union police coordinating organization Europol announced Sunday that eight nations cooperated in the operation. In Spain, 65 people face a series of charges relating to public health, money laundering and animal abuse.

The operation took several months and the chief suspect, a Dutch businessman, was arrested in Belgium in April.

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.'" After falsifying paperwork and substituting microchips used to identify the horses, the animals were slaughtered and the meat shipped to Belgium.

The Civil Guard said that the profits from the illegal meat could reach 20 million euros ($23 million) a year.

The case was linked to a 2013 scandal when Irish authorities detected beef burgers containing horse meat.

Authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Britain and Spain cooperated in the operation.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

sorry to interrupt
your first 5 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 5 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 5 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login, create an account or subscribe to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."