Horsemeat scandal: 65 arrested in probe into sale of horsemeat as beef in Ireland
The Spanish police, in coordination with Europol, have dismantled an organised crime group that was trading horsemeat in Europe that was unfit for human consumption.
The operation was carried out in coordination with Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
In Spain, 65 people were arrested 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.
In 2013, Irish food safety authorities detected beefburgers containing horsemeat. This marked the start of an investigation to find out the origin of the contamination; the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone was found in the meat.
Meat companies, frozen food companies and fast-food companies were affected by the investigation, which led to the identification of a Dutch citizen known in the horsemeat world, although his whereabouts were unknown at that moment.
In the summer of 2016, Guardia Civil’s Environmental Protection Service initiated Operation Gazel after unusual behaviour was detected in horsemeat markets.
They detected a scam whereby horses in bad shape, too old or simply labelled as "not suitable for consumption" were being slaughtered in two different slaughterhouses.