Belgian police have made six arrests as a part of a fraud investigation involving horses and different animals.
Police searched eight addresses in Antwerp and Namur and 4 males between the ages of 26 and 55, a 55-year-old Belgian lady and a 29-year-old Spaniard had been detained for questioning. Horse passports, well being certificates, automobiles, money and a gun had been seized within the raids.
The investigation discovered that animals, primarily horses, are given a brand new identification in order that they are often diverted up the meals chain, despatched to slaughter and their meat bought.
Authorities stated the motivation for the fraud was monetary, however there could also be a danger to public well being and animal welfare.
Europol and the Spanish Civil Guard are additionally concerned within the investigation, which has been happening “for a while”, in accordance with the Antwerp prosecutor’s workplace.
The search focuses on numerous corporations and their managers concerned within the large-scale import and export of horses and different animals corresponding to donkeys. The businesses additionally act as wholesalers of reside animals, agricultural merchandise and textile supplies.
Earlier inspections by the Federal Company for the Security of the Meals Chain (FASFC) and the Animal Welfare Inspection confirmed proof of tampering with animal passports and microchips, along with file violations.
Earlier editions of the annual Operation Opson, coordinated by Europol and Interpol, have included actions on passport paperwork and horse meat in nations corresponding to Belgium and Spain. The investigations led to the seizure of meat and reside animals and the opening of authorized proceedings in a number of European nations.
In Belgium, FASFC reviewed 230 horse passports as a part of Operation Opson in 2021 and 35 had been solid. Horse passports displaying indicators of forgery have been a high precedence lately and a activity drive has been arrange with extra findings anticipated in future operations.
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