Final blow to the most important criminal organization in Europe dedicated to the illegal manufacture of tobacco

50 people have been arrested in Romania in the 40 searches carried out in companies and homes in cities such as Iasi, Oradea, Timisoara, Bacau, Constanza, Bucharest, Galat and Sibiu

Agents from the Central Operational Unit of the Civil Guard and OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office) have worked on the ground in this latest phase of exploitation carried out by the Romanian Border Police after four years of joint investigation

The operation began in 2017, when the Economic Crime group of the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard, dismantled 4 illegal tobacco factories in Spain and detained 47 people

During this week, components of the Central Operational Unit of the Civil Guard displaced to Romania, participated in the exploitation phase of Operation MATRYOSHKA, developed by the General Inspectorate of the Bucharest Border Police in collaboration with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and which has allowed the dismantling of the most active international criminal organization in the European Union in terms of the manufacture and distribution of illegal tobacco.

The police actions carried out in Romania have ended with the arrest of 50 people of Moldovan and Romanian nationalities. In addition, 40 searches have been made in the provinces of Iasi, Oradea, Timisoara, Bacau, Constanza, Bucharest, Galat and Sibiu at the headquarters of various companies, warehouses and homes of the main suspects, intervening tons of machinery and material used in the manufacture of cigarettes (cardboard, cigarette filters, aluminum foil, etc.) whose origin was mainly Bulgaria and Moldova.

Operation KHARON of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

The aforementioned exploitation phase is considered the last within the KHARON operation, developed by OLAF since 2017 in collaboration with the police authorities of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and Belgium, thanks to which More than 200 individuals have been arrested and 9 clandestine tobacco factories, 95 million cigarettes and 300 tons of tobacco leaves have been intervened.
This criminal organization, formed mainly by citizens of Moldova, has been operating since 2017 without interruption in the installation and commissioning of illegal cigarette manufacturing factories throughout the European territory, especially in Spain. In our country, thanks to the work carried out by the Civil Guard, several illegal factories have been identified, such as those that were dismantled in the framework of the LERNA operation.

Operation LERNA; several illegal tobacco factories dismantled in Spain

In October 2018, the UCO, in collaboration with OLAF, dismantled two clandestine factories for the production of cigarettes located in the towns of Illescas (Toledo) and Mairena de Alcor (Seville).
Subsequently, already in April 2019, the Civil Guard dismantled a third illegal tobacco factory in the town of Santaella (Córdoba).
Given the enormous volume of production of these factories, exceeding 34,000 cigarettes / hour and € 153,000 / hour in profits, together with the fraud of public coffers of more than € 120,000 / hour, in view of the exhibited productions, this European police operation.
From the beginning of the investigation in Spain, as well as during its development, the international collaboration facilitated and promoted by OLAF has been decisive, culminating in the total dismantling of the investigated organization.

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