Tobacco smuggling ring brought down in Spain and Portugal

With the support of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre, a joint investigation between Spain’s Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and Customs Surveillance Directorate (Dirección Adjunta de Vigilancia Aduanera) and Portugal’s Republican National Guard (Guardia Nacional Republicana) has led to the dismantlement of a criminal network involved in cross-border tobacco smuggling.

On 16 February, over a hundred officers simultaneously raided addresses on either side of the border, resulting in:

  • Eight suspects detained
  • 2 tonnes of cut tobacco and tobacco strips seized
  • Over 10 000 counterfeit cigarettes seized, alongside equipment for tobacco cutting and drying 
  • EUR 37 800 in cash recovered
  • Property searches were carried out in the province of Sevilla (Spain) and in the cities of Coimbra, Lisbon, Leiria and Aveiro (Portugal). 

The criminals are suspected of having illegally imported from Spain to Portugal large quantities of tobacco leafs and strips, destined to produce counterfeit cigarettes. This criminal network had tobacco storage and production facilities scattered across both countries. 

It is believed that these criminals have smuggled over 7 tonnes of tobacco products from Spain to Portugal in 2021 alone. 

The revenue loss generated by this illegal activity is estimated at over EUR 163 000 in Portugal.