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European authorities detain 26, stop network suspected of trading in illegal horse meat

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PARIS — European authorities say police in several countries have detained 26 people in a crackdown on an organized crime network accused of trading in illegal horse meat.

Eurojust, the EU agency for judicial cooperation, said in a statement late Friday that the network falsified documents and sold meat from horses unfit for human consumption. The meat then made its way into the "legal food chain," unbeknownst to consumers.

The operation involved authorities in France, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The statement said the main suspect is a Belgian, but did not provide the nationalities of those arrested.

European health authorities have been on alert for horse meat crime since 2013, when they discovered that it was being secretly sold as beef in some prepared foods around Europe.

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