Spanish Police Bust Counterfeit Cigarette Factories, Arrest 20 and Free 11 Captive Workers

Spanish police bust 2 counterfeit cigarette factories, seize 33 tons of tobacco and 6M cigarettes, arrest 20, and free 11 captive Bulgarian workers, highlighting the EU's battle against illicit tobacco trade.

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Safak Costu
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Spanish Police Bust Counterfeit Cigarette Factories, Arrest 20 and Free 11 Captive Workers

Spanish Police Bust Counterfeit Cigarette Factories, Arrest 20 and Free 11 Captive Workers

Spanish police have arrested 20 people and seized nearly 33 tons of tobacco leaves and around 6 million cigarettes from two counterfeit cigarette factories. The operation was carried out after 11 Bulgarian workers were found being held captive at the illegal manufacturing sites.

The police raid revealed the extent of the European Union's problem with counterfeit tobacco products. Crime groups have been increasingly setting up illicit cigarette production operations in Western Europe due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which have impacted their usual supply chains.

The seized illicit tobacco products were estimated to be worth nearly 40 million euros on the black market. The criminal network behind the counterfeit cigarette operation had been holding the 11 Bulgarian workers in poor conditions, restricting their freedom and forcing them to work in the factories.

Why this matters: The bust of the counterfeit cigarette factories in Spain highlights the ongoing battle against the illicit tobacco trade in Europe. The case also reveals the human toll of such criminal operations, with vulnerable workers being exploited and held against their will.

A Spanish police spokesperson stated, "This operation has dealt a significant blow to the counterfeit cigarette trade in our country. We will continue to work tirelessly to dismantle these criminal networks and protect both our economic interests and the well-being of those who are exploited by these illegal operations." The successful raid and arrest of the 20 individuals involved demonstrate the authorities' commitment to combating this form of organized crime.

Key Takeaways

  • Spanish police arrested 20 people, seized 33 tons of tobacco, 6M cigarettes.
  • Counterfeit cigarette factories held 11 Bulgarian workers captive in poor conditions.
  • Illicit tobacco products worth €40M seized, highlighting EU's counterfeit trade problem.
  • Criminal networks exploiting supply chain disruptions from COVID-19, Ukraine war.
  • Police raid dealt significant blow to counterfeit cigarette trade in Spain.