THE Guardia Civil, in collaboration with the Treasury Ministry, has seized more than 41 tonnes of tobacco in the largest tobacco seizure in Spanish history. The amount of tobacco is estimated to be enough to fill four million packets of cigarettes and has a market value of about €6,640,000.
Eleven members of the organisation have been arrested. They are being charged with smuggling and tax fraud, with the total amount of fraud adding up to €5,500,000 when taking into account IVA, special taxes and customs laws.
The investigation started at the beginning of the year after an increased amount of loose tobacco and roll-up cigarettes was noted in different parts of Jaen. At the same time, the police force began to receive numerous reports from local tobacco shops and tobacco distribution companies that sales were down about 30 per cent.
Increased police presence was established in order to determine if it was the result of smuggling. Officers began to carry out checks on establishments in the province in order to ensure that those selling tobacco were authorised to do so.
Officers carried out nine searches in the towns of Jodar and Linares, where they seized 400 kilos of tobacco, a large quantity of cigarettes, and numerous machines for cutting and rolling tobacco.
Afterwards, the Guardia Civil, in collaboration with the Tax Agency of Granada, detected that the supply company of the tobacco and the machines was doing its manufacturing in two industrial areas near Madrid. Upon investigation of these areas, the officers discovered that the supply company was not registered as a manufacturer, importer, or distributor of tobacco, which is required by Spanish law. Further investigation revealed that the company was buying tobacco in bulk from companies in Spain, Poland and Bangladesh, and the rolling and packaging machines from the United States.
The company had a large number of clients. Clients were found by means of phone calls or through the company´s website, which had servers located in France and Bangladesh. The distribution of the merchandise was carried out through a shipping company that makes daily shipments to all parts of Spain and Portugal. The receivers resold the products either in person or on the internet.