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An organisation involved in smuggling tobacco to other European countries has been dismantled

Operation Peirún

  • Collaboration between the Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service and French Customs had led to the seizure of more than 1.4 million packets of tobacco and 14.5 tonnes of cut tobacco
  • Nine members of the organisation have been arrested. The goods were smuggled via Irun to warehouses in Catalonia and Navarre, where they were placed in car parts boxes before being sent to their destination.

30 December 2021.- The Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service, in collaboration with French Customs, has dismantled an organisation led by Spanish nationals that was involved in sending large consignments of contraband tobacco to other European countries.The organisation had several warehouses in Catalonia and Navarre where the tobacco was placed in boxes of car parts for subsequent shipment to its destination.

As a result of the operation, known as 'Peirún', nine members of the organisation have been arrested, six of them from Spain, two from Brazil and one from Portugal. In addition, more than 1.4 million packets, with an estimated market value of over 6 million euros, and 14.5 tonnes of cut tobacco have been seized, in what has been one of the largest seizures of the year in terms of contraband tobacco.

The joint actions began in late March with the seizure in France of a lorry loaded with 14,500 kilos of cut tobacco on its way to Spain.The seizure carried out by the La Rochelle Brigade of the French Customs Department kicked off a series of combined investigations into alleged smuggling and criminal organisation offences in relation to an organisation that used a transport company with Portuguese lorries to move large consignments of smuggled tobacco between European countries.

Cargo surveillance and intervention

The surveillance work carried out by Customs Surveillance officers from Catalonia, the Basque Country and Navarre determined that the organisation was bringing goods into Spain via the Gipuzkoa town of Irun, and that it had several warehouses in Navarre and Catalonia where it stored the tobacco before smuggling it into other European countries across the La Jonquera (Girona) border.

In June, Customs Surveillance officers in Girona spotted one of the lorries previously seen in a warehouse under surveillance in El Vendrell (Tarragona) passing through La Jonquera.The French Customs were immediately alerted. Their Perpignan Brigade located the vehicle and, during the subsequent inspection, seized 350,000 packets of Sixt brand cigarettes hidden inside car parts boxes, arresting the two drivers, both of Brazilian nationality.

Investigations continued and, in late November, Customs Surveillance officers from Girona and the Basque Country tracked another lorry on its way to a warehouse in El Vendrell, noticing once again that the same type of goods were being loaded in the warehouse. They found that the transport was once again headed for Italy, this time leaving from the Port of Barcelona.Officials intercepted the lorry and discovered 452,000 packets of Regina brand tobacco, again hidden in car parts boxes, leading to the arrest of the driver, a Portuguese national.

Search in Tarragona and final arrests

At that time, a search of the warehouse in El Vendrell was carried out and the person in charge, a Spanish national, was arrested.A further 667,000 packets of Regina tobacco and more boxes of car parts were found inside the warehouse, leading to the arrest of the person in charge of the warehouse, a Spanish national.

Several searches were then carried out, two of them in Italy with the collaboration of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), one in Navarre and another in Barcelona, which led to the arrest of the other five members of the organisation, all of them Spanish nationals.

Customs Supervision:Presentation of charges for smuggling and related offences

Free telephone 900351378.

Film of the operation (go to the following website to download the video):