Europe’s po­lice crack mas­sive horse­meat traf­fick­ing ring

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Po­lice from seven Euro­pean coun­tries de­tained 26 peo­ple in a crack­down on a horse­meat traf­fick­ing ring two years af­ter a tainted meat scan­dal that rocked the con­ti­nent, the EU’s ju­di­cial agency Euro­just said Satur­day.

Euro­just said in a state­ment that the swoop gath­er­ing hun­dreds of po­lice and ju­di­cial of­fi­cials “suc­ceeded in stop­ping an or­ga­nized crim­i­nal net­work in­volved in trade in il­le­gal horse­meat.”

The op­er­a­tion in­volved of­fi­cers and the ju­di­ciary in France, Bel- gium, Ger­many, Ire­land, Lux­em­bourg, the Nether­lands and Bri­tain, the Euro­pean Union agency said.

Euro­just did not say where the 26 sus­pects were ar­rested but the Dutch public pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said three were ar­rested in the Nether­lands. France had re­quested the trio’s ex­tra­di­tion, the pros­e­cu­tors added.

Me­dia in Bel­gium said four of its na­tion­als, in­clud­ing the al­leged ring­leader, were ar­rested in France.

Euro­just said the main sus­pect in the ring, which is ac­cused of intro- duc­ing horse­meat un­fit for hu­man con­sump­tion into the Euro­pean food chain, was Bel­gian.

The sus­pect, who was op­er­at­ing out of Bel­gium, had been un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion since Novem­ber 2012, the state­ment added.

French au­thor­i­ties es­ti­mate that be­tween 2010 and 2013 some 4,700 horses un­fit for hu­man con­sump­tion were slaugh­tered for the food trade, Euro­just said.

Dozens of com­mer­cial and pri­vate premises were searched in the raids and more than 800 horse pass­ports seized along with medi- cation, mi­crochips and com­puter equip­ment.

The ar­rests come two years af­ter a ma­jor scan­dal trig­gered by the dis­cov­ery that horse­meat was be­ing passed off as beef in burg­ers and other meat prod­ucts sold across Europe.

Meat­balls, sausages and frozen burg­ers were pulled from su­per­mar­ket shelves by the mil­lions over the find.

Euro­just did not say whether there was any con­nec­tion be­tween this week’s raids and the 2013 horse­meat scan­dal.

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