The investigation revealed the gang added a dye to make yellow sunflower seed oil simulate the green colour and appearance of olive oil from a base in the region of Larissa.
The Hellenic Police said the organization had been active since at least the beginning of 2015 and adulterated oil was sold under different trade names in domestic and European markets.
They seized almost 3,000 metal containers of 5 litres destined for export to Germany, six cars as well as a number of notes and documents.
Examination of samples by the Chemical Service of Central Macedonia revealed they were adulterated.
An operation in Larissa, Thessaloniki, Pieria, Magnesia and Thesprotia last weekend (25 November) led to the arrest of five men and two women.
Police said depending on the orders they received for olive oil, the members of the organization added pigments to sunflower oil tanks to simulate olive oil.
Adulterated olive oil was put in plastic or metal containers of various sizes with labels referring to areas known for production of high quality olive oil (Crete, Messinia etc) or names referring to indications such as "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" and its properties.
Trade names of oils (Source: EFET)
- "Elias drops"
- "Ελαιώνας / Eleonas"
- "CRETA drops"
The distribution network included shops (restaurants, convenience stores, mini markets, supermarkets, etc.); retailers who resold to their clientele; by the organization to individual customers for their own use and exports to countries including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The investigation found that from early September to late November this year the organisation exported to Germany and from there to Belgium and the Netherlands around 100,000 litres of artificially coloured sunflower oil as extra virgin olive oil and estimated profits were €200,000.
Police found 10,380 litres in 5L metal containers alleged as Extra Virgin Olive oil under the trade name "PAROS" and 4,290 litres in a metal container alleged as Extra Virgin Olive Oil under the trade name "Karpos".
EFET (The Hellenic Food Authority) urged consumers in possession of the olive oils not to consume them.