AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands’ national prosecutor’s office said on Saturday it had detained three suspects as part of a French-led investigation into illegal trading in horse meat.
Dutch prosecutors said in a statement the three had been detained after searches of 15 buildings across the country. The investigation is being coordinated in several countries by the European Union agency Eurojust.
Eurojust said in a separate statement dated Friday that actions had been underway in several European countries to stop “an organized criminal network involved in trade in illegal horsemeat”.
According to the Eurojust statement, French authorities believe 4,700 horses unfit for human consumption were slaughtered and sold as food between 2010 and 2013. French authorities alone have uncovered falsified identification documents for 400 horses.
Documents and assets were seized from an unidentified company in the south of the Netherlands, Dutch prosecutors said.
“The company and its owner are suspected of forgery and improper importation of horses without valid identification,” prosecutors said.
The horses are believed to have been given falsified documents and then illegally re-exported, prosecutors said.
Police and food inspectors in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and Britain also conducted unspecified actions in the same investigation this week, Eurojust said.
Reporting By Toby Sterling; editing by Ralph Boulton