Romanian law enforcement officers have uncovered a secret illegal cigarette factory in southern Romania which manufactured thousands of fake cigarettes.
The facility also packaged and distributed them in Romania and other European Union countries.
The anti-organized crime agency said the facility was set up by 19 citizens from Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.
Six individuals were detained following searches. Three others were placed under judicial control, a statement said.
The agency said that from December 2018 until the bust, Romanian, Moldovan and Ukrainian citizens operated the factory in the southern county of Dolj.
It produced counterfeit cigarettes, imitating registered trademarks. The cigarettes were then distributed on the domestic market and abroad without the required legal documents.
The producers evaded paying excise duties that would have gone to the state budget.
The tobacco and other raw materials were purchased from companies in neighboring Bulgaria. They entered Romania via the Calafat border crossing on the Danube in southwest Romania.
They were concealed as other goods or declared as customs transit to other EU countries.
Officers found “approximately 50 tons of loose tobacco, a line of shredded, fermented, crushed and dried tobacco, a printing press, materials and raw materials used in the process of production, assembly and packaging of cigarettes and sheets were seized, filter, foil, adhesive. They had similar designs as well-known brands of cigarettes,” a statement said.
The facility was equipped with a generator to avoid the high consumption of electricity from the electric grid and as a way of avoiding detection.
Machinery, a tractor and a trailer and a van, and five vehicles were used for the transport of tobacco and processing materials, a statement said.