Office européen de lutte antifraude

Tobacco criminal network dismantled in Spain and Portugal

Tobacco criminal network dismantled in Spain and Portugal

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  2. English
22/07/2021

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) supported the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Portuguese Guarda Nacional Republicana in an operation against an international criminal network specialised in the illicit production and sale of cigarettes, as well as in the laundering of its illicit profits. Operation Alecrín – as it was dubbed – started in 2019 and culminated in several enforcement actions between May and July this year.

According to estimates, the organisation defrauded over 10 million euros from public revenue with its illicit activities. A total of 125 searches were carried out in Spain and Portugal during Operation Alecrín, with 29 arrests and over 2 million euros in cash seized. An illicit production plant was dismantled in Spain. In total, the different authorities together seized 27 million cigarettes and around 51 tonnes of tobacco between Spain and Portugal, as well as vehicles, fire arms and machinery for the illegal production of cigarettes.

OLAF supported the Spanish and Portuguese authorities in information exchanges, bridging national investigations and helping define an international investigation strategy. Together with Eurojust, OLAF also played a crucial role in the coordination of international cooperation with authorities in other Member States and countries including Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine.

More information is available in the press releases by Guardia Civil (in Spanish) and Guarda Nacional Republicana (in Portuguese).