The Spanish Guardia Civil, in coordination with Europol, has dismantled an organised crime group that was trading horsemeat in Europe that was unfit for human consumption. The operation was carried out in coordination with Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In Spain, 65 people were arrested and charged with crimes such as animal abuse, document forgery, perverting the course of justice, crimes against public health, money laundering and being part of a criminal organisation.
 
In the summer of 2016, Guardia Civil’s Environmental Protection Service initiated Operation Gazel after unusual behaviour was detected in horsemeat markets. They detected a scam whereby horses in bad shape, too old or simply labelled as "not suitable for consumption" were being slaughtered in two different slaughterhouses. The animals came from Portugal and several places in northern Spain, their meat was processed in a specific facility and from there sent to Belgium, which is one of the biggest horsemeat exporters in the European Union. The criminal organisation forged the animals’ identification by modifying theirs microchips and documentation.
 
During the investigation, Guardia Civil was able to locate the Dutch businessman related to the Irish case of the beefburgers containing horse meat, in Calpe, Alicante. From there he led the activities of the organisation, putting his most trusted men in charge in every country affected by the scam.
 
Source: Europol