Customs and TradeNews

Intervened in Alicante 20 tons of oranges contaminated with a prohibited pesticide

The Spanish Civil Guard has intervened in Alicante 20 tons of oranges that were contaminated with chlorpyrifos, a pesticide whose use in the food industry has been prohibited in the European Union since 2020.

The operation -carried out with the collaboration of the General Directorate of Public Health and Addictions of the Generalitat Valenciana- has resulted in the investigation of seven people for crimes against public health, false documents, against trade and consumers, and by constitution of a criminal group.

The records have taken place in several facilities of fruit companies: one in Barcelona -where the batch was initially analyzed-; one in Castellón; two in Valencia; one in Alicante -company owned by the leader of the gang-; and the last one, in Murcia.

The oranges -already withdrawn from the market- came from Egypt and were purchased in Barcelona by the leader of this network, who was aware of the use of this prohibited pesticide in the citrus fruits that he intended to sell.

The importer, whose company was located in the province of Alicante, declared to the authorities that the oranges detected in Barcelona had been sold to a company in Murcia, and later in Valencia. Once acquired by a businessman from the province of Valencia, it was assumed that the latter had contracted with another company from that same province to destroy the contaminated oranges.

However, the Seprona agents, with the information provided by the health authorities, have discovered the falsity of that statement. The researchers have found a network of companies involved, distributed throughout the Spanish Levant, and directed by the importer from Alicante.

Those investigated had created the invoices, purchase and sale receipts, and even the destruction documents -in a fictitious way-, trying to convince the authorities that the oranges would be withdrawn from the market and destined for destruction.

The Hisnlukk operation has been developed by Seprona of Alicante, which has had the collaboration of the General Directorate of Public Health and Addictions. The Food Safety Areas of Alicante, Alzira (Valencia) and Murcia have also participated. It has had the support of the Civil Guard’s Central Environmental Technical and Operational Units.