“27 Arrested in Spain for Illegal Tobacco Factories Exploiting Ukrainian Refugees”

In spain recently uncovered a large-scale illegal tobacco smuggling operation and arrested 27 people. the gang was allegedly running three clandestine factories where ukrainian refugees worked in poor conditions. the factories had the capacity to make more than half a million cigarette packs daily, which were then sold across spain and abroad. the bosses of the organisation enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, allegedly laundering money for their tobacco smuggling operation.

First factory was found in a chicken shed near seville in the south at the end of 2021. during the raid, the authorities seized tobacco products worth €37.5m ($41m; â£33m), luxury vehicles, jewellery and large quantities of cash. more than 20 homes, industrial buildings and shops were searched. the investigation also revealed that the gang was diversifying production by developing large marijuana plantations.

Ukrainians, who had fled russia’s invasion of their country in february 2022, were living “crammed” into prefabricated shelters within the factories and working long hours without leaving to avoid detection, as some had entered the country illegally. the urgency of their situation and language barriers sometimes forced refugees to take informal and underpaid work. the investigation was assisted by the european policing agency europol. according to the united nations, there are nearly eight million recorded ukrainian refugees across europe.


By Evey Lovelace

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