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17 July 2017, 02:02 | Jan Cross
Horsemeat was found in burgers in Irish supermarkets
Spanish police began investigating a group which slaughtered Spanish and Portuguese horses too old or in too bad a condition for human consumption, forged their documentation and sent them to Belgium, a large horse meat exporter in the European Union.
The investigation stems from a British horsemeat scandal in 2013 when frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets were found to contain horse DNA.
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.
According to the Financieele Dagblad, Fasen has an earlier conviction for selling cheap Argentine horse meat to Muslims as halal beef.
Authorities allege horse meat was being sold that was unfit for human consumption.
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. "From there he led the activities of the organisation, putting his most trusted men in charge in every country affected by the scam".
The Spanish investigation was launched a year ago after unusual behaviour was detected in the horse meat market.
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Investigators searched for the origin of the contamination and tracked it to the Dutch man.
It said the arrest of the leader of the criminal group was carried out in Belgium.
The investigation eventually led the Civil Guard to the Dutch meat trader, who had initially been involved in the beef burger scandal and was based in Calpe, Spain.
They revealed 65 people had been arrested in Spain alone over the alleged scam after a Spanish court probing the scandal lifted a secrecy order which had previously prevented the authorities from making any official comment.
A spokesman said: "As a result of the police operations, several bank accounts and properties have been embargoed and five recently-purchased high-end vehicles seized".
Worldwide police have dismantled a horse meat trafficking network with ramifications that stretch to Portugal.
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