An organisation engaged in the clandestine manufacture of packets of tobacco of recognised brands has been disbanded

Joint operation with the Tax Agency, National Police and the Guardia Civil

  • Seven people have been arrested upon suspicion of smuggling, industrial property and tax offences
  • Facilities were found in Sedella, Malaga, where the cigarettes were manufactured, while in Aguilar de la Frontera, Cordoba, there was an industrial warehouse where the product was being stored
  • A total of 54,500 packets of tobacco of a well-known brand were found inside a van, while in one of its 'pilot cars' a high-powered frequency jamming device was found, evidencing the use of sophisticated technical means to hinder police investigation

20 January 2020 .- The Tax Agency, the National Police and the Guardia Civil, in a joint operation, have dismantled a criminal group specialising in the clandestine manufacture of cigarettes and their subsequent distribution in Spain and other European Union countries.Seven people from Ukraine, Latvia and Russia have been arrested as suspected perpetrators of smuggling, industrial property and public finance offences.

The investigations began in March 2019, when the National Police received a warning about the arrival in Spain of a Russian national who was planning to work in a clandestine tobacco factory in the province of Malaga.As a result of this information, the National Police and Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency initiated a joint investigation aimed at following the movements of this person through the different towns where he travelled, through which he made contact with other persons of the same nationality.He also adopted high security measures to hinder any police surveillance that might have been carried out on them.

The information obtained in this process, and the information provided after the monitoring of another Russian individual who arrived in Spain in October, led the investigation to focus on the province of Malaga. At this time, agents from the Guardia Civil were incorporated and a house was located in an area that was difficult to access in the Axarquia mountain range, belonging to the municipality of Sedella in Malaga.

They used rental cars to make a possible police investigation more difficult

Surveillance of this building detected six individuals who entered and left both the house and the adjacent building, as well as others who entered the property in cars and vans.These vehicles were sometimes rented to hinder a possible police investigation into them.With the monitoring of these people, a second industrial building was located in the town of Aguilar de la Frontera, in the province of Cordoba.

Once the illegal activity was confirmed, a mechanism coordinated by the three agencies was planned for the arrest of the members of the criminal group.The agents detected the entry of two vehicles and a van at the Sedella property, where they stayed for one hour.After they left, they were followed and intercepted by the investigators who found that they were transporting a total of 54,500 packets of a well-known brand of tobacco.

Following this finding, two more inspections were carried out on the aforementioned industrial premises, as well as an entry and search of a property.All this led to the arrest of the seven people who made up the group.In addition to the intervened brand, evidence was found in the register of the house that they also had material to make cigarettes of a second, also well-known brand.

In one of the vehicles acting as a 'pilot car' for the van, a high-powered frequency jamming device was found, demonstrating, once again, the use of sophisticated technical means to hinder police investigation.

Soundproofing systems to avoid detection

The warehouse in the municipality of Aguilar de la Frontera was intended to be used as a warehouse, and samples of cardboard of the same brand of tobacco used in the van were found there.The warehouse in the municipality of Sedella was intended to be used as a factory, and sufficient material was found inside for the entire process of manufacturing cigarettes from bulk tobacco.In addition, soundproofing systems were found that prevented the noise from machines, extractors and power generators from being detected outside.

The investigation has established that the final product was distributed in vans mainly in Andalusia.Some vehicles were only intended to carry out the transport of the craft used as a warehouse factory.

As a result of the police operation, three Ukrainian nationals have been arrested, three from Latvia and one from Russia, and six of them have been put in prison.

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