An international criminal group dedicated to tobacco smuggling with two clandestine factories in Seville broken up

Joint operation by the Tax Agency, National Police and the Portuguese Police supported by Europol

  • A total of 18 people have been arrested in Spain and five in Portugal for their alleged involvement in the distribution and sale of the product nationally and internationally.
  • Ten tonnes of tobacco cuttings and more than 36,000 packets of cigarettes were seized during the operation.
  • The organisation owned two clandestine warehouses in Montellano and Lebrija, where they carried out the illegal activity, handling and storing the tobacco in order to obtain a large economic benefit.

3 September 2021.- The Tax Agency, in a joint operation with the National Police and the Portuguese Police with the support of Europol, has dismantled an international criminal organisation dedicated to the smuggling of tobacco, both in the form of packets and in the form of cigarettes.In the framework of the operation, known as 'Tronco', 18 people have been arrested in Spain and five in Portugal, and more than ten tonnes of tobacco cuttings and more than 36,000 packets of cigarettes have been seized in Spain.

The two clandestine factories where the illegal activity was centralised have also been dismantled, in Montellano and Lebrija – both in the province of Seville.

The investigation began in January, following a European Investigation Order from the GNR of Portugal, with Customs Surveillance of the Spanish Tax Agency and Group III of the Drugs and Organised Crime Unit (UDYCO) of the National Police in Seville leading the operation in Spain, with the support of Europol.

After further investigation, the investigators were able to identify a person based in Seville and learn the extent of his involvement in this criminal group, who was in charge of transporting the illegal tobacco to Portugal for distribution in various leisure and catering establishments.

This line of investigation led to the identification and location of suppliers, warehouses and clandestine factories, leading agents to the provinces of Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Cadiz and Badajoz.

More than ten tonnes of tobacco leaf seized

From that time, surveillance was intensified in the warehouses and clandestine factories where the tobacco could be stored. In July, an extensive operation was set up with more than 200 police officers from different police forces to carry out more than 12 simultaneous raids in Seville, Cordoba and Badajoz.

The operation led to more than 18 arrests, the seizure of several high-end vehicles and firearms and more than ten tonnes of tobacco cuttings, as well as more than 36,000 packets of cigarettes, which would have had a market value of more than one million euros.

In Portugal, more than 60 searches were carried out, resulting in the arrest of five people and 440 kilos of tobacco cuttings, the dismantling of three tobacco factories and the seizure of two firearms and more than 220,000 euros in cash.

Film of the operation (to download the video and photos you must go to the following web address):

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