‘Fag’ factories stubbed out
Gang could produce 18,000 cigarettes per minute, say police
By Alex Watkins
ILLEGAL factories in Alicante, Murcia and Madrid provinces have been shut down in a joint operation by National Police, Guardia Civil and Spanish customs.
The three facilities had a combined production capacity of 18,000 cigarettes per minute and supplied the black market in Spain and abroad, explained a spokesman for the authorities.
They apparently sold fakes of 14 well-known brands including Fortuna, Winston, L&M and Chesterfield in Spain, and others destined for other EU countries.
A total of 38 people were arrested including three Bulgarian nationals who are alleged to be the gang’s ringleaders in Spain and have been remanded in custody.
Officers seized a total of 43,160 kilos of loose tobacco and 1,443,000 packets of cigarettes, which had an estimated street value of over €9 million.
Raids on the factories and storage facilities were carried out simultaneously at the end of September, when the organisation was about to start production at their third factory, located in Albatera in the south of Alicante province.
Two production lines had been set up there, which were ready to start work and staff were already on site.
The 11 suspects arrested there were five Bulgarian citizens, five Ukrainians and one Russian.
The other two factories were already in full production, one of them in Blanca (Murcia) – where eight Bulgarians and six Ukrainians were arrested – and the other in Villanueva de Perales (Madrid), where another 12 people of the same nationalities were detained.
Officers also seized six vehicles and machinery used in the production and packaging process.
The raids came after months of investigation, initiated by the Elche public prosecution service, which established the gang’s ‘cautiousness and capacity to adapt their logistics to almost any eventuality’.
The warehouses they used for storage were in Illescas (Toledo) and Alcalá de Henares (Madrid).
But the gang also stored large quantities of cigarettes and materials inside lorry trailers which they kept in public car parks.
The spokesman said the operation had prevented significant financial losses for the Spanish treasury, as well as unfair competition for legal cigarette businesses and a health risk to consumers, since the illegally produced cigarettes had not been submitted to any checks.
Benidorm Resort is a platform set up by ABRECA – a Benidorm bar and restaurant association, Rosember Real Estates and Apartmentos Nicaragua as a new way of promoting the resort in a safe and positive light.
The group’s philosophy is to inform everyone that Benidorm is open; it is safe; and ‘united we are stronger’. This week they welcomed their first clients, who are able to stay in safe and certified tourist apartments and have breakfast, lunch and dinner in 50 of the town’s bars and restaurants who are participating in the programme. The four-day bank holiday weekend highlighted the success of this collaboration and November already has reservations at 50%.
There has been much interest and publicity which has resulted in reservations by the French, Belgian, Dutch, British and Italian markets, they noted.
Jávea water company AMJASA has approved an investment of almost €400,000 in improvements to the mains network.
The public company directors agreed three separate projects in La Giardia and Els Castellons areas and will put the work out to tender. Once awarded, the contracts will have a three-month execution period.
Cigarettes were being produced on an industrial scale