59 people arrested and investigated for food fraud

More than 119 tons and 38,300 liters of counterfeit food and beverages have been seized

This year the operation has focused on dairy products and their derivatives, olive oil, alcoholic beverages and horse meat used for human consumption.

Up to a total of 28 million euros had been defrauded in Europe

The Civil Guard has developed the OPSON IX operation against agri-food fraud, in which controls against counterfeiting, sale, labeling, trade, illegal distribution or adulteration of food products and economic fraud have been intensified.

This high intensity operation has been coordinated by EUROPOL and led in Spain by the Civil Guard, in it nearly 3000 controls and inspections have been carried out in distribution centers, warehouses, commercial areas, means of transport, containers and fiscal warehouses, ports and airports. More than 900 administrative infractions and 23 criminal infractions have been detected, with a balance of 19 people arrested and 40 investigated, who are charged with crimes against public health, documentary falsehood, against consumers and fraud.

Fraud during the Alarm State

During the first semester of 2020, despite the validity of the state of alarm and the situation of the pandemic in Europe, the vigilance of the Civil Guard on the threat posed by agrifood fraud has been intensified, highlighting the preparation and distribution of counterfeit or low-quality products, which directly influences the consumer market.
Very diverse forms of fraud have been detected such as the falsification of documents on lamb of French origin that was sold with a protected geographical indication of Castilla y León, the production of wines and musts adulterated with sugars or the distribution of pizzas nationwide from a local that it did not have the required hygienic sanitary conditions.

International collaboration

This year 83 countries have participated in the ninth edition of the OPSON operation, increasing the number of countries involved each year (78 countries in 2019). Members of the Police, Customs, as well as public and private organizations in food control material have participated in this operation.
More than 400 people have been arrested at European level and an economic fraud of more than 28 million euros has been estimated, with a withdrawal of up to 5000 tons of food.

Main actions of the Civil Guard

  • Ciudad Real Command: The Organic Unit of the Judicial Police of the Civil Guard of Ciudad Real, arrested / investigated 17 people as alleged perpetrators of crimes against market consumers, criminal organization, accounting and documentary falsehood, money laundering and scam. The criminal organization would have been deceitfully introducing a total of 40,746,855 kg of isoglucose into the Spanish wine market for raw materials or semi-finished products, passing it as concentrated or rectified grape must and 39,755,335 absolute liters of alcohol, passing them through wine brandy.
  • Barcelona Command: SEPRONA of Barcelona has arrested 15 people and investigated another 13 for alleged crimes against public health and for documentary forgery. Throughout the operation, more than 10,000 horses have been investigated in livestock farms and slaughterhouses in the province of Barcelona, ​​who had supposedly forged passports that classified them as meat fit for human consumption, finding that more than 300 Horses that had already been slaughtered did not comply with consumer regulations. 185 passports have been intervened for presenting indications of documentary falsity and finding that more than 100 equines that would breach the Spanish and European regulations for slaughter and sale to the consumer. This operation is still open due to the complication of the large configured criminal network and because more lines of investigation are open, not only at the national level but at the European level.
  • Madrid Command: The SEPRONA of Madrid has carried out an operation related to the transformation of Iberian bait product, of which irregularities have been observed regarding the traceability of the Iberian standard product, as well as an illegal use of the sanitary registry, being constituting a crime against industrial property, fraud, counterfeiting, relating to the market and consumers and another possible crime against public health. Almost 6,000 containers of sliced ​​Iberian products have been seized with false documentation and traceability. In Barcelona, ​​a warehouse or logistic food center was inspected and later the intervention of a total of 225 units of 500 grams each, containing containers of Iberian bait and loin, Iberian chorizo ​​and sausage, 89 units in 100 gram containers containing Iberian bait tenderloin, and 630 units in 100 gram containers of Iberian cebo shoulder.
  • Commandery of Burgos: The SEPRONA of Burgos, proceeded to the investigation of 3 accused of a fraud in the commercialization and sale of French suckling lamb as if it were a Protected Geographical Indication (IGP Castilla y León). Having been able to demonstrate the sale of 57 lambs of French origin and 940 lambs of dubious origin that were marketed by a company in the Community of Madrid.
  • Huesca Command: The SEPRONA of Huesca, investigated a person for an alleged crime related to the market and consumers for fraud in the labeling of wine bottles, which would present labeling irregularities in relation to the rules on the appellations of origin and protected geographical indications.
  • Zaragoza Command: The SEPRONA of Zaragoza arrested two people and seized more than 12,000 pizzas in different establishments, for crimes against public health, in the production, distribution and sale throughout the Spanish territory of frozen pizzas, lacking the sanitary registration and breaching the hygienic-sanitary measures in its elaboration and transport.
  • The Civil Guard has collaborated with different entities and organizations in the public and private spheres, both nationally and autonomically, highlighting the close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. This Ministry has participated in the inspections carried out and in training tasks for the agents who were going to carry them out, with special mention to the Subdirectorate General for Differentiated Quality and Ecological Production and the Subdirectorate General for Control and Food Laboratories.

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