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Horse Meat Unfit for Human Consumption Sold, 35 Arrested


Thirty-five people were arrested and six companies investigated after a criminal gang was found falsifying documents and selling meat from horses that was unfit for human consumption.

A criminal gang has been dismantled after authorities found horse meat unfit for human consumption being sold with forged documentation. The Civil Guard in Spain and Europol in Europe helped bring down the gang, with 35 people arrested and six companies investigated for their crimes. These crimes included: animal abuse, affiliation with a criminal organization, money laundering, crimes against public health and document falsification.

The Civil Guard has confirmed in a statement that the documentation, traceability and fitness for consumption of the animals were forged. The meat obtained from the animals was being sold in Spain and exported to countries like Germany, Belgium and Italy.

In the farm used by the gang, 80 horses were found in inhumane conditions. They were subjected to animal abuse and left to suffer from illness and injury without veterinary care. The authorities also seized more than half a ton of meat prepared to be sold in specialized butcher shops. The meat from these horses posed a serious health risk for consumers.

The person in charge of the gang was engaged in the purchase of horses throughout Spain and transported to their facilities in Valencia, Spain. These animals were then sent to Belgium, Germany, Italy, and other EU countries.

During these long transports, the animals didn’t have access to food or water. Transporters were a part of the plot to sell this illegal meat from horses, as well as veterinarians who falsified the documentation, and butcher shop owners who sold the meat.

The meat was also sometimes mixed with other meat by-products to increase its volume.

Animal Equality’s Work to End Horse Slaughter

Animal Equality denounces the inhumane slaughter and trade of meat from horses.

In October, we released a global campaign calling for an end to horse slaughter. Over 117,000 people around the world have already signed the petition to ban this practice.

Even the US contributes to this $397 million global horse meat trade, which 83% of Americans oppose. 

In 2007, the US essentially ended the production of horse meat by removing USDA funding to inspect horse slaughterhouses. But this didn’t stop handlers from selling horses at auction to facilities in Mexico and Canada in an attempt to continue profiting off their meat. Nearly 24,000 horses were transported and slaughtered last year alone. 

On November 23, Animal Equality released a shocking undercover investigation showing US horses awaiting slaughter at a facility in Zacatecas, Mexico. The second part of this investigation shows what happens to horses inside slaughterhouses like this.

As footage by Animal Equality shows:

  • Sick and injured animals who are unable to walk are hung by chains around their necks to be moved
  • Workers use electric shocks on horses after wetting them in an attempt to herd these animals
  • Horses are slaughtered while conscious. Some that are stunned prior to slaughter have been shot multiple times with a bolt gun before being effectively stunned.

Just this week, on December 8th, Animal Equality further denounced this suffering and the unnecessary slaughter of horses by protesting on the front lawn of the US Capitol. A dozen supporters joined Animal Equality on Capitol Hill to call on the US Government to permanently ban the killing of American horses for their meat inside and outside of our borders.

Photo I Animal Equality

With the released investigation and protest, Animal Equality is working to raise awareness of this ongoing cruelty towards horses, who many of us consider companions like our dogs and cats. We are campaigning globally to protect the approximately 4.3 million horses slaughtered around the world every year.

You, too, can do your part to end the slaughter of horses by signing our petition to end this unnecessary and inhumane practice:



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