Spanish police seize 250 tonnes of tobacco worth $47 million


MADRID: Spanish police seized 250 tonnes of contraband tobacco leaves worth 40 million euros ($47 million) in the biggest such haul in Europe on Thursday.

According to reports, the Guardia Civil, which is the oldest law enforcing agency in Spain, arrested four members of a family during the operation in October in Caceres in western Spain.

“It is the biggest seizure of tobacco leaves in Europe,” said the Guardia Civil in a statement.

Police suspect that the group sold the tobacco over the internet, shipping it to customers through parcel delivery firms, without paying taxes and bypassing mandatory health checks.

An investigation was launched in early 2017 after officers seized two tonnes of contraband tobacco leaves and arrested two men who were transporting it by truck.

The authorities suspect the group carried over 6,000 deliveries.

Portuguese police seized 182 tonnes of contraband tobacco in January 2016, in what they said was the biggest seizure in Europe.

The sale of contraband tobacco costs European Union member states 10 billion euros in lost tax revenues every year, according to the European Anti-Fraud Office.