“Regardless of Location, Horse Slaughter is a Magnet for Criminal Activity”
City of London Police said that since launching an inquiry in May it has held two men on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and interviewed a further two men under caution.
The force said it has only released details now due to “operational reasons” and would not say when the men were arrested or reveal their nationalities.
Detective Chief Superintendent Oliver Shaw said: “This is an extremely complex investigation covering a number of jurisdictions and a variety of businesses.
“We are working closely with police forces, other law enforcement agencies and regulators to determine whether horsemeat being used in a range of meat products was deliberate and coordinated criminal activity.”
City of London Police was asked to work with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as part of its inquiry into the scandal.
It reviewed evidence from law enforcement agencies in Europe and the UK, as well as from the FSA.
The force launched an investigation in May and said it made the arrests “during the initial stages” of the inquiry. Officers have also carried out searches at businesses and homes in the UK.
Last month MPs condemned the slow pace of the national investigation into the scandal, with no prosecutions six months after the problem was first identified.
The Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said authorities in both the UK and Ireland – where horse DNA was first discovered in processed beef products – had yet to acknowledge the scale of the illegal activity involved.
It said: “The evidence we received from retailers and food processors in the UK and Ireland suggests a complex, highly organised network of companies trading in and mislabelling frozen and processed meat or meat products in a way that fails to meet specifications and that is fraudulent and illegal.
“We are concerned at the failure of authorities in both the UK and Ireland to acknowledge the extent of this and to bring prosecutions.
“We are dismayed at the slow pace of investigations and would like assurance that prosecutions will be mounted where there is evidence of fraud or other illegal activity.”
The FSA has already agreed to an independent review of its response to the scandal.