Ukrainian refugees were exploited in illegal tobacco factories say Spain’s Guardia Civil

Police officers look around an illegal tobacco factory which exploited Ukrainian refugees for labour. Photo credit: Guardia Civil

AUTHORITIES working on a contraband tobacco case have revealed that criminals were using illicitly using Ukrainian refugees for labour, providing low wages and work in poor conditions.

Police from Spain’s Guardia Civil announced the dismantling of a criminal ring running three illegal tobacco factories on Sunday, January 22, and now say Ukrainian refugees were being exploited to work in two of the factories in dismal conditions, in exchange for menial wages.

Ukrainian refugees who had arrived in Spain following Russia’s invasion of their country last year were living ‘crammed’ inside the factories according to police agents who participated in the bust. On the other hand, criminal bosses were living luxury lifestyles, at the expense of their exploited labour.

The illegal tobacco factories were capable of producing around half a million packets of cigarettes every day. The first factory to be uncovered was located in Sevilla at the end of 2021, which led to the other factories in eastern Valencia and La Rioja being found during the last 12 months.

Police believe the gang was also involved in other organised crime including drug trafficking.