Spanish police foil horse-meat trafficking network, selling horses from Portugal

A trafficking network peddling Portuguese horses ‘for human consumption’ has been foiled by Spain’s Guarda Civil (GNR equivalent), with nine horses believed to have been purchased in Elvas saved from slaughter at the 11th hour. Three people have been arrested in the operation which tracked the horses from Portugal to Zaragoza, where they were due to be killed for meat. One of the animals recovered is only two years old.

According to national tabloid Correio da Manhã, this kind of trafficking is a “relatively common crime”, albeit that horse meat is not deemed fit for human consumption.

The ruse, explains the paper, is to doctor all paperwork before the animals enter Spanish slaughterhouses.

This is what appears to have happened in this case, which dates back to April when the nine horses were loaded onto a truck bound for Spain.

Due to arrive within hours, the horses actually took two days to reach their destination, and were then in a different truck.

Veterinarians on site alerted police who managed to move in before the animals were killed, says CM.

Had things been different, their meat would have ended up for sale in the commercial marketplace, the paper affirms – as all paperwork had been fixed so that warnings that the meat was not “in condition to be consumed by humans” had been “eliminated”.

The three arrests are of Spaniards, accused of endangering public health and falsification of documents.

A similar operation was foiled in Spain in 2014 – just a year after the Findus scandal, where beef lasagne products were found to have been made with 100% horsemeat.

According to CM, the nine horses involved in this latest police swoop had all the requisite identification documents from Portugal.

On one, “it is possible to see that the animal, called Russa, is a female born in 2014, and has a certificate of origin dated from this year issued by Portugal”, the paper adds.

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