FOURTEEN people, comprising 10 men and four women, have been arrested in the provinces of Huesca and Zaragoza, Aragon, and Lleida, Catalonia, as the Guardia Civil believe they have cracked a case of illegal cattle fattening.
As surprising as it might be that this is a crime which exists, more remarkable still is the extent of the illicit bovine bloating, as police carried out raids on no less than 30 farms and slaughterhouses during the sting.
It transpires that the agroterrorists had been impregnating livestock feed with a heady combination of growth hormones and beta blockers, in order to accelerate the speed at which the animals put on weight, with the jelly-bellied herd subsequently producing more meat than normal.
The fraudulent farmers worked in conjunction with shady abattoirs who were in on the wheeze, organising the export and sale of the chemically-enhanced cuts to unwitting butchers and supermarkets in several European countries.
A forensic investigation using samples of feed, water, urine and hair revealed the existence of the furtive beta blockers in the ill-fated animals’ diets, with the steroid dexamethasone administered during the final phase of their growth.
The roly-poly ruminants thus gained an average of 40-60 kilos more weight than they would if grown on naturally, permitting the double-dealing ranchers to increase their profit margin, with the meat selling for around €5 per kilo on the European market.
In 2015 alone it is estimated that the devious scheme resulted in at least 1.3 million kilos of contaminated beef, which could potentially put the health of consumers at risk, went on sale.
The investigation remains open, since police believe there may be other shameless herdsmen pulling off similar scams.