Spanish police dismantle horsemeat operation unfit for humans

Police smash Europe-wide horsemeat racket

Dutchman at centre of new European horse meat scandal

Spanish police have arrested sixty five people in an operation coordinated by Europol who belonged to a network that sold horsemeat as beef.

Police in Spain arrested 65 people suspected of crimes including animal abuse, document forgery, public health violations, money laundering and being part of a criminal organisation, Europe's policing agency Europol said in a statement.

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.

Several EU nations were involved in the food scam operation which reportedly took several months to organize, with Spain, the U.K., France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and Romania involved.

The investigation began in 2013 after authorities in Ireland discovered beefburgers containing horsemeat.

Worldwide police have dismantled a horse meat trafficking network with ramifications that stretch to Portugal.

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Spain's police, as part of Operation Gazel, carried out raids in Alicante and Leon in northern Spain.

Other charges brought against those arrested were perverting the course of justice and committing crimes against public health.

The investigation in the wake of the scandal let to "the identification of a Dutch citizen known in the horsemeat world", Europol says. The gang is accused of taking old or unwell horses and slaughtering them for their meat, then selling it on as prime beef. As many as 13 European countries were implicated in the scandal.

Bank accounts, properties and luxury cars were seized as part of the investigation.

The spokesman claimed that the organisation changed the identify of the horses by substituting their microchips or falsifying animal passports.

"The investigation revealed the existence of an organization which acquired horses which were in bad condition and old and not apt for consumption and sacrificed them in two specific slaughter houses", a spokesman for the Civil Guard added.

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