By John Smith • 06 August 2020 • 11:50
Cigarettes waiting to be packed
Credit: Guardia Civil
AS part of an operation involving Spain, France, Lithuania, Poland and Europol, the Guardia Civil and Spanish Tax Agency have raided an illegal factory manufacturing cigarettes.
Seven people who are either Lithuanian or Polish have been arrested and all of the machinery seized along with €72,640 in cash.
The investigation began at the end of last year, when Europol, reported the existence of an international criminal organisation operating in the area of Catalonia, manufacturing large quantities of cigarettes which were sold mainly in France and Spain.
A number of smugglers were caught entering into France from Spain en route for Poland and 243,000 packs of cigarettes were confiscated and then another lorry was stopped in Canfrac (Huesca) and a further 43,200 counterfeit packs were found.
Officers in Spain started to try to identify the location where the cigarettes were made and carried out a search in disused buildings of an old farm in the town of Les Borges Blankues (Lleida), where the tobacco factory was found.
The production line was estimated to have the capacity to manufacture 9,000 cigarettes per hour and a further 49,680 packets were discovered ready for shipment along with, 180 kg of chopped tobacco leaf, filters, cardboard, glue and other material necessary for production.
The facilities had rooms with the capacity to accommodate 14 workers, necessary for the operation of the clandestine factory and work was divided into two shifts to maintain production 24 hours a day.
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Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.
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