Developed jointly by Europol and the Spanish Civil Guard, the operation aimed at the illegal sale of horse meat unfit for human consumption. Criminal networks involved in this illicit sale are associated with various crimes such as food fraud, money laundering and document fraud. Untraceable meat was sold not only in Spain, but also in markets in Belgium, Germany and Italy.

An investigation revealed that a large criminal network had falsified the traceability of horsemeat by falsifying transfer and identification documents. During the operation, state authorities arrested 35 people, including network heads, while targeting six companies associated with the criminal syndicate. During a raid in Spain, authorities seized half a ton of horse meat unfit for consumption.

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Active international cooperation facilitated by Europol allowed the Belgian Federal Police to make six more arrests and dismantle the criminal system. Suspects involved in criminal networks had a variety of functions. From people who slaughtered animals without the necessary controls, to transport personnel, to veterinarians who submitted false papers, to butchers who sold unsuitable meat.

Suspects obtained horses from all over Spain for free or for a fee of up to €100 per horse. Due to several factors, these animals were never intended for the food market and the potential for illegal profit was great. They set up a complete beef processing plant and began exporting meat to other European markets. Spanish authorities searched the clandestine facility and found 80 horses, which had been mistreated due to poor veterinary care and were suffering from a variety of untreated ailments.

This lack of oversight posed a significant risk for the development of human-transmissible zoonotic diseases. In addition, the animals suffered from poor conditions in stables, lack of feed and water, and persistent stressful conditions during transportation. with an estimated turnover of €4.5 million on the logistics side. Criminal networks turned dirt into diamonds:
A horse worth only 100 euros written off generated an illegal profit of about 1.5 million euros.

Europol coordinated operational activities, facilitated information exchange and provided analytical support to national law enforcement agencies. During the operation, Europol sent experts to Belgium and Spain to check operational information against his Europol database in real time to provide clues to field investigators.

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