An organisation engaged in the clandestine manufacture of packets of tobacco has been disbanded as part of Operation “Straperlo”


  • Joint investigation by the Tax Agency, the Civil Guard and National Police Force.
  • Tobacco production and storage facilities searched in Coles, (Ourense), Ponteareas (Pontevedra) and Valladolid

22 August 2020.- Operation "Straperlo": a joint operation carried out by the Operational Customs Surveillance Unit of the Tax Agency in Ourense, the Organic Unit of Judicial Police of the Civil Guard of Ourense and National Police’s Organised Crime Task Force in Galicia. This operation has helped to dismantle a criminal organisation consisting mostly of Eastern Europe nationals, specialising in the clandestine manufacture of cigarettes.25 persons [Romania (2), Ukraine (19), Moldova (3) and Portugal (1)] have been arrested, suspected of participating in smuggling, being members of a criminal organisation, crimes against public health and intellectual property.

Investigations begin in early 2020, when it was discovered Romanian and Portuguese nationals had rented large vessels to establish a stable structure for the illegal manufacture of large quantities of tobacco products that were not subject to tax or health controls.

The organisation had reached the production phase, having finished work to assemble the cigarette manufacturing facilities in June this year.The factory construction process involved the supply of materials (cement blocks, insulation and soundproofing material, propane gas), machinery (trucks and hydraulic jacks for handling heavy goods), ventilation and odour extraction equipment and the machinery used to manufacture cigarettes, sourced from Romania.

The raw material, rolling tobacco, was transported from different countries over land and the cigarettes were manufactured at the facilities before being placed on the black market.

Having collected the necessary evidence in the early hours of 20 August, a large operation involving more than 80 officers culminated in the arrest of 25 people and several searches were performed at buildings and industrial premises. Those worth particular mention include:

  • Industrial premises located at LG Cambeo - Coles - Ourense.The main manufacturing facilities for the packets of tobacco were located in these industrial premises.21 persons, most of whom are Ukrainian and Moldavian nationals, have been arrested.In addition to the manufacturing machinery, MARLBORO raw material and packaging was seized
  • Industrial premises and annexes located in Lg A Porteliña - Oliveira - Ponteareas - Pontevedra, where a significant amount of raw material was seized.
  • Private homes in Ourense and Pontevedra, where the Romanian and Portuguese nationals in charge of the organisation were arrested and where three vehicles were seized
  • Industrial premises in Valladolid, located on Avenida de Madrid where different material was stored, such as filters, etc.

The goods handled weighed around 150 tonnes, including tobacco leaves and cut tobacco leaves and 250,000 MARLBORO cigarettes, with an approximate value of around 21 million euros.

The material resources seized:

  • 2 lorry cabs
  • 2 trailers
  • 5 vehicles
  • Tobacco manufacturing machinery (two manufacturing lines)

It is believed that the packets of tobacco were destined for different EU countries, marketed under the MARLBORO brand.

This operation has dealt a severe blow to one of the most significant criminal organisations operating in Spain, and has succeeded in dismantling an important infrastructure in terms of the production, processing and illegal distribution of tobacco.

Film of the operation (go to the following website to download the images):

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