Gardaí and the Department of Agriculture searched farms in five counties this morning as part of an investigation into the tampering of identification passports and microchips of horses presented for slaughter.

The Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, assisted by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, conducted planned searches at locations in Roscommon, Leitrim, Sligo, Westmeath and Kilkenny.

Seven sites were searched, including farms, houses and a commercial premises.

The searches are part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation into offences of deception pursuant to Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Offences Act, 2001 surrounding fraudulent practices regarding tampering of identification passports and microchips of horses presented for slaughter in this jurisdiction.

The operation is supported by officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau, Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau.

Earlier this year the discovery of horses with multiple microchips at an abattoir in the Co Kilkenny area led to the Department of Agriculture’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) being called in.

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