THE Guardia Civil has arrested 11 people in Spain and Italy for belonging to a gang trading tampered olive oil.
Authorities have seized 16 containers with over 5,200 litres of oil ready to be sold in Jaen, Ciudad Real and Cordoba.
It is part of a joint operation between Europol and the Carabinieri, Italy’s foreign police force.
Known as ‘Omegabad’, the operation began when an officer of Spain’s Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) stopped a van transporting olive oil in Manzares, Ciudad Real.
The officer noticed a series of anomalies which led to an investigation revealing two branches of a criminal olive oil gang in Spain and Italy.
The Spanish section of the gang was responsible for sourcing low quality oils, which were then mixed with virgin and extra virgin olive oil.
The levels of the different oils had to be carefully measured to ensure they had the right amount of fats and other chemicals to make them seem like real virgin olive oil.
Then, the gang produced false documentation so that they could sell the diluted oil at higher prices and at an international level.
In Italy, two businesses were responsible for carrying out the same task in the famed olive oil areas of the country.
As well as the olive oil, €91,000 in cash and four high end cars were seized during the eight raids, five of which were in storage rooms and packing units throughout Spain.