Guardia Civil seizes nearly 33 tons of tobacco and 6 million counterfeit cigarettes

by Lorraine Williamson
tobacco and cigarettes

The Guardia Civil has successfully concluded the final phases of Operation GANUZ – CALIFA DUKE 24, resulting in the dismantling of an international criminal organisation dedicated to the manufacture and distribution of contraband tobacco and cigarettes, as well as the subsequent laundering of illicit profits.

The operation, carried out during the months of March and April, led to the seizure of nearly 33 tons of tobacco leaf and approximately 6 million counterfeit cigarettes.

Arrests

The investigation, which remains ongoing, has resulted in multiple arrests in the towns of Antequera (Málaga), Montilla and Lucena (Córdoba), Humanes de Madrid (Madrid), and Azuqueca de Henares (Guadalajara). Additionally, various raids were conducted in the provinces of Córdoba and Madrid.

As a result of these operations, two large and sophisticated facilities dedicated to the illicit manufacture of cigarettes were dismantled in Lucena and Humanes de Madrid. These facilities were equipped to carry out all stages of production, including tobacco leaf processing, cigarette composition, packaging, and preparation for distribution.

Exploitation

Within these facilities, there were distinct areas for work and living for the workers, with the latter being where they resided permanently, unable to leave during their stay in Spanish territory. In the case of the factory in Humanes de Madrid, 11 Bulgarian workers were found locked inside and were subsequently liberated.

Cogesa Expats

Of particular note is the factory in Lucena, which was designed and constructed to prevent external access and hinder detection. The entrance to the facility was camouflaged from a second adjacent warehouse, giving the impression to authorities that it was engaged in legal economic activity. Inside, a false wall concealed a hiding place where workers could be concealed in the event of a police presence or inspection.

Seized

The seized products include over 6 million counterfeit cigarettes and approximately 33 tons of tobacco leaf, with an estimated value of close to €7.6 million. Among the counterfeit products, presumably destined for sale on the black market in Portugal and France, are items from major brands, with the use of generic packaging being detected for the first time.

The investigation remains ongoing, and further actions are not ruled out.

Also read: Record revenue for Spanish tax authorities from tobacco taxes

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