SPANISH Police have dismantled three illegal tobacco factories in Madrid, Murcia and Alicante that together produced over 18,000 cigarettes per minute.
A total of 38 people were arrested, believed to be the core of a ‘highly specialised organisation’ run by Bulgarians.
Valued at more than €9 million, 43 tonnes of tobacco cuttings were seized, along with more than 1.4 million packets of illegal cigarettes, destined for black market sales across the continent.
Over the last few months, investigations revealed a number of secret facilities and organisations were linked to the same men, largely from Bulgaria and the Ukraine, all of whom already had convictions for similar crimes.
Of the fake brands, the gangs produced cigarettes labelled as Fortuna, Winston, Chesterfield and others.
Simultaneous raids successfully dismantled operations last month, just as manufacturing was due to begin at the third factory in Albatera (Alicante).
The other two factories, both in full production, were in Blanca (Murcia) and Villanueva de Perales (Madrid), where gang leaders were arrested along with workers.
Authorities said a ‘significant economic damage to the Public Treasury’ had been avoided with the dismantling of the operation.