The Civil Guard dismantles an international network that introduced contaminated japan clam in Spain

In Operation “TXUSPAS” 43 people of different nationalities have been arrested and investigated and 38.5 tons of japan clam intervened

The investigation, led by SEPRONA under the coordination of EUROPOL, has had the participation of the authorities of Portugal

The Civil Guard coordinated by EUROPOL, has developed the Txuspas operation, in which 38.5 tons of “japan clams” have been intervened. 43 people (39 Spaniards, 4 Portuguese) have been arrested and investigated, 80,000 euros being intervened in cash and a nursery (clandestine warehouse) where they stored the japan clam from Portugal. There have been 6 records and 7 inspections, with a total of 11 companies involved in the investigation.

The Civil Protection Service of the Civil Guard (SEPRONA) initiated investigations last year following the poisoning of twenty-seven people in different restaurants in Cantabria and Asturias. Researchers have managed to demonstrate the existence of an organized group dedicated to the illegal fishing of bivalves in Portugal and its subsequent commercialization through Spanish nurseries. To do this, they used two routes of entry into Spain with final destination Huelva and Cantabria.
After a brief treatment of purification by circulation of clean water, unable to perform a complete purification, the contaminated clam was placed on the market through shops linked to the sale of mollusks and restaurants.

Chained Companies

The investigation has allowed knowing the collusion between the suppliers of the japan clam and those responsible for the nurseries, which mixed the intoxicated bivalves with the legally acquired clam, in order to lose traceability. In this way, before a possible intoxication, it would be impossible to determine the origin, thus trying to annul any responsibility as it is not possible to determine the shellfish.
Likewise, nursery managers used false documents from Portuguese estuaries in order to mask the real origin of the clam.

At international level

Although the activity of the companies investigated focused on Spain, all the clam came from stealth shellfish off the coast of Portugal, which is why we worked with ASAE (Authority of Segurança Alimentaria e Economica), which carried out a large number of coordinated services with SEPRONA, frustrating in October 2019 the last shipment that the criminal organization tried to introduce in Spain, seizing 2.5 tons of japan clam contaminated in Portuguese soil .
The groups of poachers, dedicated to the collection of the operated bivalves, were mainly composed of people of different nationalities of Eastern Europe, with scarce economic resources, who acted outside the legislation, allocation of quotas, etc. Situation that has lasted over time due to the high demand of the hospitality sector in coastal areas.
The main leaders and transporters have been arrested in Spain and Portugal after being monitored and controlled for deliveries, cash receipts and verifying both the lack of settlement and traceability of the merchandise.
The commercialization of contaminated japan clam was detected in restaurants and shops dedicated to the sale of mollusks. In both cases, unaware of the real origin, because the Spanish treatment plants masked their origin.

Very profitable activity

During the operation 38.5 tons of japan clam were intervened. The calculations made by the researchers put the annual benefits of this criminal network at more than 9 million euros, with an estimate of more than 1000 tons of japan clam of illegal origin and which were received by the 11 Spanish companies investigated.

Food safety

The organizations with competence in the Autonomous Communities with the coordination of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) constantly monitor the shellfish extraction areas, issuing temporary or permanent prohibitions on these activities in case of detection of risk levels.
The operation has been coordinated by Europol and developed by agents of the Nature Protection Service of the Civil Guard (Seprona) in collaboration with the Fisheries Directorate of Cantabria and its inspectors, the AESAN (Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition) and the Portuguese Authority for Food and Economic Security (ASAE), supervised by the Court of First Instance and Instruction No. 1 of Santander (Cantabria) .


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