A GANG of Eastern Europeans invested €3 million in setting up a cigarette factory in Granada and even created their own brand and packaging.
As they were not declaring these cigarettes to the tax authorities, they were committing a serious crime and a major investigation was initiated involving the Guardia Civil, Europol, and police authorities from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and the Ukraine.
The majority of those working in the factory which was capable of producing two million cigarettes a day came from Bulgaria and the Ukraine were found to be working 12 hour days in unhealthy conditions.
Eight properties in Granada and Malaga were searched resulting in the arrest of 18 people and the discovery of 10 tonnes of tobacco leaves, 4 tonnes of fine-cut tobacco, 4.5 million cigarettes, machinery, filters, paper and glue.
Head of Europol’s Financial Intelligence Group, Simon Riondet said: “The illegal manufacturing of cigarettes and tobacco smuggling generate a large amount of illegal money. Criminals need to launder this illicit cash.
“Thus, investigative efforts must target the financial assets of the criminal organisations, conveying the message that those who benefit from criminal money cannot enjoy it in the European Union.”