Brazilian horsemeat sales dismantled

Image copyright EPA Image caption Police identified the people behind the operation in a border city south of Rio

Police in Brazil say they have dismantled a criminal group that mixed cattle meat and horsemeat in deliveries to four restaurants and supermarkets.

The alleged ringleader, Noel Matre, operated from a truck depot in Rio de Janeiro, where he repackaged the meat, Police Inspector Flavio Jose Bedi says.

They are accused of processing and selling horsemeat as beef between 2008 and 2016.

Mr Matre faces charges of corruption and illegal supply of food.

On Monday they were arrested in several operations around Rio and a third suspect surrendered.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Sailzene Ferrandegaldone, 23, was one of the main brokers of horsemeat, officials say

As well as storing horsemeat, six trucks were confiscated to be used as evidence.

Six other suspects were still on the run, after appearing in court on Monday.

A court-appointed expert revealed that 750 tonnes of horsemeat were imported between 2008 and 2016. Police found 157 frozen horses and 30 butchering machines were discovered.

Investigations also uncovered more than 600 pieces of horsemeat in different denominations inside frozen meatpackers.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Some 77kg of horsemeat was recovered from a refrigerated van in a further investigation, according to police

It is not known how much horsemeat was sold for the illegal activity but officials said it could have reached a value of around $3,000 (£2,310).

Investigations have focused on the criminal syndicate in Rio’s Surui municipality, in the city’s western valley.

In March the police said the group smuggled horses across the border from Bolivia. Two men were arrested and their horses seized.

A raid on a neighbouring part of Rio also uncovered meat. The uncover cargo turned out to be horse.

It was then sold to restaurants and supermarkets, which ordered one kilo packages of horsemeat and a one-half kilo package of beef.

According to Brazil’s R7 television network, authorities analysed the horsemeat samples, which turned out to be less than 1% horsemeat.

Leave a Comment