A Romanian national has been arrested in the case of a series of draft horse thefts in eastern France, according to an official of the country’s Comtois breed association. According to the official, the horses were allegedly stolen for illegal export to eastern Europe for their meat.

As many as 12 draft horses—primarily Comtois horses and one Ardennais mare—have been stolen from their pastures in France’s Jura department of the Franch-Comté region since June 2012, said Gilles Sornay, industry director and coordinator of the National Association of the Comtois Draft Horse in Besançon, France. None of the animals have been recovered.

All the horses were microchipped prior to being stolen, Sornay said. However, illegal export of the horses is still possible due to inconsistent border control. “Not all the agents know to scan the horses as they leave France or as they enter another country,” he said. “And not all countries require microchips or verify them, especially if they are not part of the European Union (EU), like Serbia, which is close to Romania.”

EU law requires microchipping of all horses born in or after 2009, according to a representative of the Health and Consumer Policy department of the European Commission. However, there is no verification of microchips between borders of member nations, nor as animals leave the EU. Even so, horses travelling from one country to another even within the EU should have a health certificate and a passport, which are usually checked at departure and at the arrival if officials are present.

“The microchip is certainly not an anti-theft m