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Just some of the counterfeit cigarettes seized. GC
Six million counterfeit cigarettes seized and arrests made in Malaga town following raid on two illegal tobacco factories
Crime

Six million counterfeit cigarettes seized and arrests made in Malaga town following raid on two illegal tobacco factories

Eleven foreign workers, who were not allowed to leave one of the facilities, have been freed by the Spanish authorities

SUR

Malaga

Friday, 26 April 2024, 17:06

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The Guardia Civil's UCO group - similar to a serious crimes unit - has taken down two clandestine tobacco factories in Madrid and Cordoba, but arrests took place across several more Spanish towns, including Antequera.

The operation, which has culminated in 20 arrests and nearly 33 tonnes of tobacco leaf and six million counterfeit cigarettes being seized, has dismantled an international organisation dedicated to the distribution of contraband tobacco, presumably for sale on the black market in Portugal and France, according to Guardia Civil sources. Among the counterfeit material were brand name products and, for the first time, the use of generic packaging has been uncovered.

In addition to Antequera, arrests were made in Montilla and Lucena (Cordoba), Humanes de Madrid (Madrid) and Azuqueca de Henares (Guadalajara), as well as various property searches in the provinces of Cordoba and Madrid.

Eleven workers released

Eleven workers of Bulgarian origin have been released from the Humanes factory. The criminal organisation kept them permanently on the premises and did not let them leave, according to the Guardia Civil. Likewise, in the Lucena factory, officers discovered a hideout where the workers had hidden themselves in case of a police raid or any police checks were carried out.

In both facilities all stages of cigarette production were undertaken, including the grinding and processing of tobacco leaf, rolling the cigarettes, then packaging and preparation for distribution. According to investigators' estimates, the value of the seized products amounts to around 7.6 million euros.

One of the factories now shut down.
One of the factories now shut down. GC

The investigation has been carried out by UCO via its Economic and Anti-Corruption Investigation Department, together with Cordoba city's Judicial Police Unit, with the support of various police units from Badajoz, Cordoba, Guadalajara and Madrid.

International cooperation was provided by the European agencies of Europol and OLAF, the Department of Operational and Search Activities of the Administration of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, and especially the Bulgarian State Agency for National Security.

Apart from all the counterfeit goods seized during the raid on the facilities in Lucena town, Guardia Civil officers also recovered other items. So, on 9 March, they handed over all the non-perishable foodstuffs and basic necessities found there to the charity Cáritas Diocesana de Córdoba.

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