Five crime gang arrests over unfit horse meat entering food chain

Horses nuzzle in Ireland.

Gardaí believe some animals have effectively been smuggled into the food chain

THE IRISH TIMES by Connor Lang (2 Jul 20) — Gardai have arrested five people as part of a lengthy investigation into horse meat unfit for human consumption entering the food chain by manipulation of safety measures. The five were held on suspicion of taking part in organised crime.

While horse meat is not widely consumed in Ireland there is a larger international market to which Irish meat is exported. Gardaí believe some horses that should have been slaughtered at the end of their lives, which were not fit for human consumption, have effectively been smuggled into the food chain.

When horses are unfit for human consumption a fee must be paid to have them destroyed. However, if a horse is deemed fit for human consumption, it would fetch a fee.

Members of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the serious crimes squad, on Tuesday arrested five men, aged between 35 and 55 years, for questioning at Garda stations in Longford and Roscommon towns and Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.

They were arrested on suspicion of “participation in a criminal organisation” and were being detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for suspects to be questioned for up to seven days without charge.

The inquiry being conducted by the Garda is about two years old and also involves the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

“These arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into a number of persons engaged in offences of organised deception and fraudulent practices, involving the tampering of identification passports and microchips of horses presented for slaughter in this jurisdiction,” Garda Headquarters said in a statement of Tuesday’s five arrests.

Just over 12 months ago gardaí raided farms, houses and commercial premises as part of the investigation. On that occasion some of the properties searched were linked to people gardai regarded as victims of the fraud rather than being part of it.

During those raids in June, 2019, a large quantity of documentation and other evidence was gathered for analysis, with today’s arrests effectively the next phase of the same investigation.

Every horse has a passport and is micro-chipped as part of a traceability system. However, gardaí believe fraudsters have been manipulating the system for profit.

In 2018, for example, a batch of microchips was seized en route to Ireland from China. They were from Eastern European horses that had died years earlier.

Gardaí and the Department of Agriculture believe the chips were about to be presented to abattoirs in an attempt to pass off some horses as being fit to enter the food chain, though they were not fit.

Horses receiving certain medicines during their lifetime, for example, would not be fit for use as food, but a new chip could allow such a horse to bypass the rules and be accepted.

When horses are unfit for human consumption a fee must be paid to have them destroyed. However, if a horse is deemed fit for human consumption, it would fetch a fee.

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Related Reading

Horses are Not “Its” , Fund for Horses

Horse slaughter and horse meat production worldwide — Introduction, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

Horse slaughter and horse meat production — A global perspective, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

Top 10 importers and exporters of horse meat worldwide, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

Top 10 countries ranked by horses slaughtered and horse meat production — 2018, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

NOTE: Thank you Jane for your stellar reports. We can never honour you enough for your hard work and contributions. — Fund for Horses and Tuesday’s Horse.

Venezuelans outraged by slaughter of racehorse for food

Venezuela racehorse slaughtered.

REPORTED BY THE NEW YORK POST (Jun. 13, 2020) — The grisly slaughter of a beloved racehorse is shining a light on just how desperate Venezuelans are for food as they struggle to survive their country’s economic collapse.

Ocean Bay, who galloped away with Venezuela’s most prestigious titles, was stolen and butchered Monday, sparking outrage that spread like wildfire across the country, The Associated Press reported.

“What a disgrace,” Ramón García, the stallion’s longtime trainer, tweeted. “This isn’t the Venezuela that I grew up in.”

Farmers and veterinarians have reported dozens of horses cut to pieces over the past few years as a recession has deepened into a depression. A UN World Food Program study earlier this year found one in three Venezuelans is going hungry.

The death of Ocean Bay hit particularly hard though, because of his fame and striking looks — a shining coffee-colored coat with an elegant white diamond-shaped streak on his face.

In 2016, the stallion snatched two of Venezuela’s three Triple Crown races. He sustained an injury but returned the next year to win five more races.

One illustrator posted portraits of Ocean Bay online; others blamed President Nicolás Maduro for letting the nation get into such a sorry state.

“This is painful for all of us,” Susana Raffalli, a nutrition expert who consults for relief agency Caritas Venezuela, wrote on social media. Read full article »

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Horse found butchered south of Ocala

Marion County Sheriff car, Florida.

Authorities not sure if this case is related to similar ones in North Central Florida

A horse was found butchered last week in Summerfield.

Marion County Sheriff’s deputies said they spoke with a woman who keeps other people’s horses on her property. She told deputies she left the horses on May 28 after feeding them. She said when she returned the next day, one was absent.

The woman said she searched for the animal and eventually found the dismembered horse. She then called law enforcement.

Officials said the horse was a 7-year-old, brown female quarter horse.

It’s unknown if the incident is connected to several horses found slaughtered in central Florida since late last year.

Anyone with information about this case can call the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 732-9111, call Crime Stoppers at 368-7867 or visit

Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118, or @almillerosb

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US Rep. Steve King loses Primary

Republican Congressman Steve King. Getty Images.

King is not only a vile bigot but also a pro horse slaughter defender who worked vigorously on the Hill to defeat any and all attempts to ban it on U.S. soil. He was also a major player in blocking legislation outlawing the live export of horses for slaughter to Canada and Mexico. More on that down the page, but first this.

TRIP GABRIEL, writing for the New York Times, reports:

Representative Steve King of Iowa, the nine-term Republican with a history of racist comments who only recently became a party pariah, lost his bid for renomination early Wednesday, one of the biggest defeats of the 2020 primary season in any state.

In a five-way primary, Mr. King was defeated by Randy Feenstra, a state senator, who had the backing of mainstream state and national Republicans who found Mr. King an embarrassment and, crucially, a threat to a safe Republican seat if he were on the ballot in November.

The defeat was most likely the final political blow to one of the nation’s most divisive elected officials, whose insults of undocumented immigrants foretold the messaging of President Trump, and whose flirtations with extremism led him far from rural Iowa, to meetings with anti-Muslim crusaders in Europe and an endorsement of a Toronto mayoral candidate with neo-Nazi ties.

Good news for horses

King is pro horse slaughter and used his considerable influence in the nation’s Capitol to thwart any and all attempts to outlaw it. He and his allies were instrumental in rallying support to block virtually every American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act introduced.

In 2012 King was central to removing the defunding clause from the nation’s annual spending budget for federal inspections necessary to export horse meat which banned horse slaughter on U.S. soil.

King’s successful defunding paved the way for horse slaughter to return to U.S. soil, but horse lovers and advocates successfully thwarted every attempt to return it. The federal defunding clause was reestablished, and has been kept in effect in all subsequent U.S. budget bills, but not without a fight.

In 2017 when vigorous attempts were made to remove the defunding language for horse slaughter inspections from the federal spending bill, Phil Derfler, Deputy Administrator for Food Safety and Inspection Service, stated:

Open quote

There has been a lot of talk in the past week about Congress’ lifting of the ban prohibiting federal funding for the inspection of horses, which prevented the slaughter of horses for human consumption for the past five years.  The issue is understandably a sensitive and emotional one for everyone who loves these majestic animals, but it is important that the discussion be tempered with the facts.

“While Congress has technically lifted the ban, horse processing will not resume anytime in the near term.  Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, horses are an amenable species, which means that horse meat cannot be shipped or sold for human consumption without inspection.

“To date, there have been no requests that the Department initiate the authorization process for any horse processing operation in the United States.  In the two states where horse processing took place prior to the Congressional ban, Illinois and Texas,  there are laws in place prohibiting the slaughter of horses.  Even if these laws were changed, any processing facility will still need to satisfy a significant number of requirements, such as obtaining  a federal grant of inspection, conducting a hazard analysis, and developing a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan prior to the processing of any animals.”

This statement has been the underpinning of our renewal of the federal inspection ban ever since.

Typical of King, he voted last year against the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, a bill to crack down on the practice of “soring,” in which trainers deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds to force them to perform an unnaturally high-stepping gait for competitions.


See our Horse Slaughter Legislative Timeline by Vivian Farrell and Jane Allin for a history of attempts to ban horse slaughter at the State and Federal levels. Go to Special Reports and scroll down to the Horse Slaughter Section. This is a unique and unrivalled resource. It begins in 1998 . . . .

See also the historic document “When Horse Slaughter Comes To Town” by Jane Allin which was instrumental in educating the public, and used by advocates, communities, State officials, lawmakers and businesses to work against horse slaughter from coming to their town.

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Featured Image: Getty Images