DOZENS of workers from Eastern Europe have been freed from slave-like conditions as police dismantle illegal tobacco factories across Andalucia.
Police made the swoop in rural warehouses set up in four Andalucian municipalities, Marchena, Bormujos, Lucena and Ecija.
After a year long investigation, Officers from the Policia Nacional and Customs Surveillance began making headway into the operation earlier in the year with a series of stings and several arrests in small scale factories across Malaga province.
With the industry fractured, police were able to make a breakthrough on December 16, when a lorry carrying tonnes of illegal tobacco was set alight, destroying its contents.
Using forensic evidence, further investigations led police to a number of warehouses set up in remote parts of inland Andalucia.
According to the police report, during the raids, officers managed to seize 45,000 packs of illegal cigarettes, 4,200 kilograms of cartons, and 10,320 kilograms of tobacco leaf, all worth an estimated €1.5 million.
Police also discovered numerous illegal Belarusians and Ukrainian workers detained in the factories and forced to live in squat like conditions.
It was found that these workers were not permitted to leave the factories and lived in a single room with no windows.
Food and water was delivered to them so they did not have to leave, and had their mobile phones taken as they entered Spain.
Police also performed raids on a luxury villa in the outskirts of the Sevilla town of Bormujos, thought to be the headquarters of the operation.
The final nail in the coffin came on January 4, when police raided a factory in Lucena and shut down a sophisticated manufacturing plant with the ability to churn out 1 million cigarettes per day.
In total, 12 Spanish, Ukrainian and Belarusian nationals have been arrested on charges of belonging to an organised crime group and remain at the mercy of the Sevilla courts.