GENDARMES arrested more than 20 people early this morning in a massive swoop targeting a giant horsemeat-trafficking network across 11 departments.
The dawn raids were carried out in Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur and Midi-Pyrénées as part of an inquiry being run in the wake of the Spanghero scandal where horsemeat was sold as beef.
It is thought horsemeat from animals used in laboratory experiments was involved.
TV station M6 said that meat from nearly 200 horses used for experiments with vaccines and drugs in labs run by Sanofi Pasteur had been sold in butchers across the south of France between 2010 and 2012.
M6 said that a horse trader had bought horses from the pharmaceutical group in Alba-la-Romaine (Ardèche) for €10 and resold them for horsemeat at €300 through an intermediary. Police in Spain were also involved as it was thought a slaughterhouse in Girona was involved.
A butcher in Narbonne was one of the first people arrested this morning.
Speaking on on RTL radio today, Consumer Affairs Minister Benoît Hamon said there was a major risk to public health from the meat, which was unfit for human consumptions and should have been destroyed. He added that the meat and fish industry had been under scrutiny since the Spanghero affair.
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Photo: Richard W.M. Jones-CC