SPANISH police have raided four factories, operating around the clock, that were churning out counterfeit cigs at a rate of 34,000 packets an hour.
In the biggest police operation of its kind in Spain four factories were raided, including ‘active’ premises in Seseña (Toledo) and Mairena de Alcor in the province of Sevilla.
The Guardia Civil’s “Operation Lerna” also led to 47 arrests and the seizure of 69 tonnes of tobacco and more than two million cigarette cartons, which would have had a street value of over €22 million. More than €600,000 in cash was also found.
The arrested individuals included nine Ukrainians, a Bulgarian, six Romanians, 28 Moldovans, as well as a Frenchman and two Spanish citizens.
The four factories had been operating for two months and were controlled by an organisation led by a Bulgarian national who, it is claimed, also has links to drug trafficking.
The criminal organisation brought in tobacco leaves from countries such as Bulgaria and Moldova with the finished product packed in fake cartons to resemble major tobacco brands.
The fake cigarettes were then distributed throughout southern and eastern Spain and also, possibly, transported to Britain.
Police said that the majority of the workers lived in poor conditions and were not allowed to leave the premises and or to smoke due to the fire risk.