A ROBBERY alert led to the discovery of an illegal cigarette factory featuring two sophisticated machines inside a Costa Blanca house.

The Guardia Civil visited a property on an urbanisation in Busot- north of Alicante- after concerned neighbours reported seeing an open window that could be been accessed by a burglar.

There was no robbery but officers instead stumbled upon a major cigarette manufacturing operation.

A Polish man, 44, and a Moroccan woman, 36, were subsequently arrested, after not being at home when the Guardia carried out their check.

Officers found 17 boxes with 202 kilos of tobacco, 4,368 counterfeit Marlboro packets ready to be filled with cigarettes, 3,640 boxes with cigarette tubes, and 307 grams of marijuana.

At the heart of the criminal enterprise was a machine for sealing tobacco packets and another one- valued at over €12,000- which could fill up to 12,000 cigarette tubes an hour with tobacco.

The fake products were then exported to Poland and Germany.

The arrested man had his name on the Busot property lease with a monthly rental of €1,500 which was paid despite him having no job in Spain.

It emerged that he sent back at least €50,000 to Poland, made by selling the fake cigarettes.

The two detainees face a string of charges including smuggling, infringing copyright, defrauding the Tax Agency, public health infringements, the falsification of documents and money laundering.

The Guardia Civil pointed out that the removal of such a large quantity of clandestine cigarettes was good news for public health, as they failed to pass mandatory health standards for legal cigarette producers.

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