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Chips are down for rogue traders importing potatoes from Egypt for resale as Spanish spuds
Crime

Chips are down for rogue traders importing potatoes from Egypt for resale as Spanish spuds

The potato fraud uncovered by the Guardia Civil in Andalucía involved falsification and cover-ups in traceability documentation and misrepresentation in packaging and final labelling

La Voz

Cadiz

Friday, 26 April 2024, 16:44

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The Guardia Civil in Cadiz, as part of their "Tuberosum24" operation, has taken down a business network that sold potatoes imported from Egypt sold as being of national origin. Those arrested committed said fraud by falsifying and altering all tracking documents, as well as tampering with the packaging and final labelling. Of the more than 500,000 kilos of the humble spuds inspected, 50,000 kilos were fraudulently sold to consumers. Three people have been arrested on suspicion of fraud, forgery of documents and industrial property offences.

This investigation was carried out in February and March of this year by the ROCA team (a type of rural crime unit) only one of various inspections undertaken in the agricultural sector. During this time officers noticed numerous irregularities in the entry into national territory of this vegetable from overseas and its final stop.

Suspicions were first aroused when officers studied numerous documents supposed to show the traceability of the product from its origin, its passage through customs and its final destination here in Spain. The modus operandi of the detainees turned out to be the purchase of a potato from Egypt that had a very similar appearance to a native variety from the Cadiz area. Therefore, by creating false documentation and tweaking the packaging and final labelling, they managed to deceive the wholesale buyers and, by default, the end consumer.

In this way, the perpetrators made a hefty profit as they sold the potato at a middle-range price that matched the potato price for the Cadiz native variety when the imported variety was much cheaper in Egypt.

Following the ROCA team's inspection a total of more than 500,000 kilos of the tuber in question, they discovered that more than 50,000 kilos were fraudulently sold to consumers in places such as Cadiz, Seville and Mercamadrid, the latter being the largest wholesale distributor of fruit and veg in all Spain.

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