• The factories had a capacity to produce more than 18,000 cigarettes per minute

The Civil Guard, the National Police and the Tax Agency have dismantled three illegal tobacco factories located in the provinces of Madrid, Murcia and Alicante, which together had a production capacity of about 18,000 cigarettes per minute.

The subsequent 38 arrests have now seen the authorities deactivate 23 illegal cigarette factories to date in Spain.

The police say they have dismantled a highly specialised organization with a massive logistical capacity that, under the direction of Bulgarians, supplied the national and international black market with up to 14 different brands of counterfeit cigarettes

In raiding the 3 factories hey seized 43,160 kilos of tobacco cuttings and 1,443,000 packs of cigarettes with an estimated value of more than nine million euros. They additionally impounded six vehicles, a tractor unit, two truck-trailers and machinery used to carry out the manufacturing and packaging process.

It is suspected that the organization manufactured `Fortuna`, ‘Winston’, ‘L & M` and` Chesterfield`, for the Spanish market, as well as others brands for consumption in other countries across the European Union.

In the Albatera factory, 11 people were arrested, 5 of them of Bulgarian nationality, 5 Ukrainian and 1 Russian, together with the confiscation of machinery and goods necessary for packaging cigarettes of different brands, abundant packaging material, as well as 12,960 kilos of tobacco.

The other two dismantled factories were also fully operational, both with double production lines, one located in the town of Blanca (Murcia), where 14 people were arrested (8 Bulgarian citizens and 6 Ukrainians) and in which 41,840 packs of cigarettes of different brands, 1,800 kilos of chopped tobacco leaf, and various manufacturing materials were all seized.

With the dismantling of this organisation and its illegal factories, a significant economic damage to the Public Treasury is avoided and also the unfair competition that the illegal activity causes to the legally established operators across the EU.