Monday, 4 December 2023, 18:50
Police in Spain and Italy have arrested 11 people and seized more than 5,000 litres of adulterated olive oil after smashing an international gang.
Officers raided Italian companies and cooperatives in the provinces of Ciudad Real, Jaén and Cordoba, where 16 oil tanks and more than 5,200 litres of adulterated olive oil ready for sale to the public were seized. More than 91,000 euros in cash and four high-end vehicles were also seized, while several bank accounts were blocked.
Suspicions were first raised when Guardia Civil officers discovered “a series of anomalies” while inspecting a lorry that was transporting olive oil in the Ciudad Real area. It led to the uncovering of an operation that had branches in Spain and Italy, and was designed to distribute adulterated olive oil on the global market.
The Spanish arm of the organisation was responsible for mixing cloudy oils - a sub-product of the olive oil producing process - with better quality olive oil so as to achieve the correct levels of fats and other substances to allow them to be sold. They also impeded traceability by not registering their company's oils.
Fewer people are purchasing olive oil in Spain as its price surges due to the country's drought. This year's extreme weather resulted in one of the poorest olive harvests in the past 20 years and a shortage of produce. The price per litre is close to or even more than ten euros.
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