Europol has said that, today (July 16), 66 people have been arrested for trading horsemeat in Europe that is unfit for human consumption.

It also announced that it had seized bank accounts, luxury cars and properties, after an investigation into a food scandal affecting a number of European countries.

Readers may remember that, four years ago, tests carried out here in Ireland revealed that meat in products such as burgers which was labelled as beef was – in a small number of cases – up to 100% horsemeat.

In the latest update to the horsemeat saga, Spanish police said that they began investigating people slaughtering horses in Spain and Portugal. The meat was reportedly unfit for human consumption. According to news agency Reuters, documentation had been forged and the meat had been subsequently sent to Belgium – a “large horse meat exporter in the European Union”.

Arrests and charges

65 people have been arrested in Spain. The main suspect – a Dutch citizen – was reportedly arrested in Belgium.

They were 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”, according to Reuters.

While headed up by Spanish police and Europol, the investigation encompasses authorities in many other European countries, including the United Kingdom. It has been reported that the Dutch citizen at the centre of this investigation has links to the Irish horsemeat scandal dating back to 2013.