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Raids net EUR 22 million in counterfeit

01 Nov 2018. Police raided four cigarette factories that had been producing counterfeit sticks and seized cigarette cartons worth EUR 22 million (USD 25 million), English-language newspaper Euro Weekly reported.

The raids were part of Operation Lerna, the biggest of its kind in the country to date, and were carried out by the Guardia Civil. According to the report, police arrested 47 individuals and seized 69 tonnes of tobacco leaf, two million cartons of cigarettes estimated to be worth EUR 22 million, and EUR 600,000 in cash.

The four factories had been operating around the clock to produce around 34,000 packs of cigarettes per hour, and had been in operation for two months. The organisation controlling the factories was reportedly headed by a Bulgarian national with suspected links to drug trafficking. Those arrested included nationals of Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, France, Spain, and the Ukrainian. Police said that most workers had been living in poor conditions on the premises and had not been permitted to smoke due to fire risks, the newspaper said.