Illegal tobacco factories where Ukrainian refugees worked were exposed in Spain

Anhelina Sheremet

The Spanish police exposed a gang that managed three illegal tobacco factories where Ukrainian refugees worked.

This is reported by the Spanish publication La Razon.

The special operation continued in three regions of Spain: in the cities of Alfaro (La Rioja), Los Corrales (Seville) and Engera (Valencia), a total of 27 people were arrested. The organization is suspected of smuggling a large amount of tobacco, which was processed into cigarettes. So, the factories could produce more than half a million packs of cigarettes per day, which were sold throughout Spain and abroad.

The police said that Ukrainians who fled the war lived in bad conditions — "modules" at these "enterprises". They worked overtime and did not leave the premises of the factories, so as not to be detected — because some had entered the country illegally.

Authorities seized €37.5 million worth of tobacco products, luxury cars, jewelry and large sums of cash during the raid. More than 20 houses, industrial premises and shops were searched.

During the searches, in addition to 3.5 million packs of tobacco ready for distribution, 10 000 kilograms of tobacco leaves were seized. Police said the gang also grew large plantations of marijuana.

The first underground factory was discovered in a chicken shed near Seville in the south in late 2021, prompting authorities to set up two more operations in eastern Valencia and La Rioja (north of the country). All factories were equipped with advanced technologies. The cost of these factories is about €3 million, and their production capacity can be about 540 000 packages per day.