Three illegal tobacco factories with the capacity to produce more than 18,000 cigarettes per minute dismantled

More than 43 tons of tobacco cut and leaf, 1,443,000 packs, as well as machinery to carry out the complete manufacturing and packaging process have been seized, with up to 14 different brands of counterfeit tobacco having been recorded.

All these infrastructures dismantled in the provinces of Madrid, Murcia and Alicante, belonged to a criminal organization of Bulgarian origin, which is considered dismantled in Spain after the arrest of 38 of its members

This organization supplied both the national and international markets, for which it also had several warehouses to store the raw material, as well as large-tonnage trailers loaded with the final product, parked in truck parking lots.

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. With this action, 23 illegal cigarette factories have been deactivated to date in Spain.

In what has been called operation TERVEL-CENTINELA, 38 people have been arrested, which is considered dismantled the structure in Spain of a highly specialized organization with a great logistical capacity that, under the direction of Bulgarian citizens , supplied the national and international black market with up to 14 different brands of counterfeit tobacco.

More than € 9,000,000 in tobacco work

In the same way, 43,160 kilos of tobacco cuttings and 1,443,000 packs have been seized, all with an estimated valuation of more than nine million euros, as well as the seizure of six vehicles, a tractor unit, two truck-trailers and various machinery arranged to carry out the complete manufacturing and packaging process.
The investigators' previous work, carried out over months, had revealed the existence of a series of clandestine facilities linked to a criminal organization made up mostly of Bulgarian and Ukrainian citizens, several of whom had records of similar events.
In addition to the three factories, several "security warehouses" have been detected for the storage of merchandise and machinery until they are transferred to the production lines. A stable road transport structure has also been dismantled, both for raw materials to supply the factories, and for cigarette packs for distribution in the smuggling market, using heavy trucks.
Given the high number of counterfeit cigarette brands, it is suspected that the organization manufactured under demand, producing both brands and consumption in the national market, in the case of `Fortuna`, 'Wiston', 'L & M` or` Chesterfield`, as well as others of consumption in markets of other countries of the European Union.

Simultaneous dismantling in Madrid, Murcia and Alicante

The exploitation phase of the operation was carried out simultaneously in the different manufacturing and storage centers at the end of last September, when the organization was about to start production in the third of its factories, located specifically in Albatera (Alicante ).
In this industrial warehouse there were two cigarette production lines, fully installed for immediate entry into operation, to the point that the workers were already in the factory, with all the necessary elements to start the illicit production of cigarettes and all the machinery installed.
In this ship, 11 people were arrested, 5 of them of Bulgarian nationality, 5 Ukrainian and 1 Russian, intervening the machinery and cardboard necessary for packaging cigarettes of different brands, abundant packaging material, as well as 12,960 kilos of tobacco leaf and sting, in addition to various vegetables.
The other two dismantled factories were 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 were intervened. Packs of cigarettes of different brands, 1,800 kilos of chopped tobacco leaf, and various manufacturing materials.
The remaining and most significant action in terms of production capacity, was carried out in the municipality of Villanueva de Perales (Madrid), where another 12 people were arrested, also of Bulgarian and Ukrainian nationalities, and in which A total of 462,533 packs of already made cigarettes, 4,900 kilos of chopped tobacco leaf and the corresponding manufacturing material were intervened. Among these detainees, the leaders of the criminal organization in Spain stand out, having decreed provisional imprisonment for their 3 top officials.

"Security warehouses" and public truck parks

A characteristic of this organization was its caution and ability to react to any eventuality from a logistical point of view. On the one hand, they had various warehouses that the researchers call 'security', given that their role was to store the materials and raw materials until such time as it was necessary to transfer them to the production chain in the factories.
During the operation of the operation, several ships of these characteristics have been registered in the towns of Illescas (Toledo) and Alcalá de Henares (Madrid). In Illescas, the person who controlled one of the warehouses, a Bulgarian national, was arrested, intervening abundant manufacturing material, 4,800 kilos of tobacco leaf ‘strips’, four vehicles and a trailer truck. In the Alcalá de Henares warehouse, 439,290 packs of different brands were seized.
But, in addition to these warehouses, the organization also used trailer-trailers for the storage of cigarettes and materials, trailers that they maintained in public parking lots for truck parking in general. In one of these car parks, located in the town of Móstoles (Madrid), 500,000 packs and 18,700 kilos of chopped tobacco leaf were seized, which were hidden in two trailers.
With the dismantling of the structure in Spain of this organization 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, as well as health damage to consumers. given the null health control to which illegally produced cigarettes are subjected.
The investigations, initiated under the protection of the Elche Prosecutor's Office, are currently being instructed in the Examining Courts of Orihuela (Alicante), Cieza (Murcia), Navalcarnero (Madrid) and Illescas (Toledo).
In the investigation phase and subsequent operational exploitation, the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard and Units of the Murcia Command, the Subdirectorate of Customs Surveillance Operations (VA) and the regional areas of VA of Barcelona, ​​Alicante participated , Murcia Toledo and Madrid of the Tax Agency, as well as the UDEV of the National Police.

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