Remember the horsemeat in burgers scandal - 66 arrested in Europol swoop

Authorities allege horse meat was being sold that was unfit for human consumption

Authorities allege horse meat was being sold that was unfit for human consumption

A Spanish-led European police investigation has broken up an organised crime group that allegedly sold horsemeat across Europe that was "not suitable" for human consumption, officials said Sunday.

All in all, " seventy-five people have been arrested and prosecuted for crimes such as animal abuse, the production of fakes, or damage to the public health, money laundering and belonging to a criminal association", said Europol in a press release.

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.

The operation against the food scam reportedly took several months to coordinate, as authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Britain and Spain took part in it.

Horse DNA was discovered in frozen beef burgers sold in a number of British and Irish supermarkets, including four of Tesco's own-brand meat products, in 2013. Other charges include committing crimes against public health.

The origin of the investigation, the Guardia Civil Spanish had detected irregularities on the market for horse meat.

Global police have dismantled a horse meat trafficking network with ramifications that stretch to Portugal. Detectives seized luxury cars, bank accounts and property during the raids.

How did the racket work?

Old, unfit or just unwanted horses were deliberately targeted in Portugal and the north of Spain and put down in two concrete slaughterhouses, police say.

The crime group modified microchips and documentation.

After analyzing samples of the meat found in the Spanish slaughterhouses, investigators concluded that the meat was mostly sold overseas.

People in Italy and France are the biggest consumers of Equidae - the "taxonomic" family of horses and related animals - according to a report by the Guardian in 2013.

Total EU horsemeat imports in 2012 came to 50,250 tonnes and exports 54,853, while EU beef imports in 2011 totalled 315,000 tonnes and exports - 510,200.

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