The Guardia Civil discovered a clandestine cigarette factory hidden underground capable of producing 3,500 cigarettes an hour.
Above ground was a horse paddock on the outskirts of Monda in the province of Málaga; a village with a modest population of 2,594 inhabitants, but below it they were busy with an illegal tobacco business that was earning around 6,000,000 a month.
The factory occupied 200 sq/m of floor space working around the clock with only a generator working to recycle the air down there.
The workers were on 12 hours on, 12 hours off, sleeping on bunkbeds and remaining below for weeks on end.
The Guardia Civil raided the factory on the 11th of last month and arrested a total of 20 people of several nationalities: British, Lithuanian and Ukrainians, 12 of whom were remanded in custody.
A specialist from Europol, Howard Pugh, pointed out that it is the first underground factory of its kind to be uncovered in Europe.
It was the Guardia Civil that received information that two people with a history of illegal tobacco manufacturing were living on the Costa del Sol, which led to locating the factory. When the police first arrived on the location they had difficulty finding the entrance – it took them 18 hours of searching – because the two arrested men wouldn’t confess to where it was.
All the time that the police were searching on the surface, the six workers’ lives were in danger because the generator had run out of fuel, leaving them with limited oxygen and a build up of carbon dioxide.
Finally, besides the 20 arrests, the police bust also included 17.6 tonnes of tobacco, 153,000 packets of cigarettes, 144 kilos of marihuana and 20 kilos of hashish. However, the police operation has not concluded; they want to know who supplied the tobacco and workers.
(News: Monda, Malaga, Andalucia)