Cigarette Factory Stubbed Out
A clandestine Bulgarian-run cigarette factory in Elche that could have produced 40 million cigarettes has been raided by the National Police, with five people arrested. Two million packets were set to be marked with two popular brand labels, with the Spanish tax office potentially defrauded of six and a half million euros.
A Bulgarian criminal gang, with a long list of activities behind them like smuggling and money laundering, and who operated across Europe, started setting up their illegal factory at an unspecified Elche address in November. A shipment of tobacco was followed by the National Police this month, and was traced to an Elche area warehouse, which was then raided, and five Bulgarians arrested, some of them with existing criminal records in Spain and Bulgaria.
The warehouse unit was sophisticated in what it had to offer, with beds and showers, as well as a dining area and kitchen. There was even a mobile phone jamming device to stop workers making contact with the outside. The building had also been specially soundproofed.
Another part of the Bulgarian gang had been arrested back in July for running three clandestine factories in isolated areas of Toledo, Malaga, and Salamanca. 22 people were detained,, with workers being shipped in from Bulgaria to work for up to a month on manufacturing the illegal cigarettes from the raw tobacco leaves.