IN a joint investigation between the Guardia Civil and the Spanish Tax Office, an organisation which was smuggling tobacco plants into Spain and then drying and distributing it has resulted in the arrest of 13 people and the seizure of 100,000 kilos of tobacco valued at €16 million, the largest seizure of its kind ever.
In an operation which has taken more than eight months to bring to a close, officers became aware of an internet site where a range of tobacco and associated products were being offered for sale.
After investigation it became clear that the owners of the site were attempting to avoid the payment of tax whilst selling the products on a retail basis and it transpired that the tobacco itself was not being checked for impurities or disease.
Raids were undertaken in five Valencian towns which resulted in the arrest of 10 men and three women from Poland and Spain as well as 100,000 kilos of tobacco, 1,866 machines used in the tobacco trade, five vehicles and a number of motor bikes.
It is estimated that the potential loss to the treasury had all of the seized tobacco been sold would have been in the region of €2 million.