French and Slovenian authorities have dismantled a cigarette factory in Slovenia that was supplying millions of counterfeit cigarettes to France, according to Europol.
Initiated in October 2020, the investigation focused on an organized crime group involved in the illicit production and distribution of cigarettes. After two successful actions in France in April and May 2021 targeting the criminals involved in the distribution of these counterfeit cigarettes, the Slovenian authorities started a mirror investigation aimed at arresting the suspects responsible for the production of these illegal products.
On Jan. 25, more than 100 officers from the Slovenian National Police Force and Financial Administration simultaneously raided 11 sites, including industrial premises and private residences. They were assisted in the field by officers from the French Gendarmerie as well as French magistrates from the Bordeaux Interregional Specialized Court and Europol officers.
This action uncovered several production sites established in warehouses located in remote areas of Slovenia. In total, more than 26 tons of tobacco were seized in Slovenia as well as 29 million filters, several cigarette-making machines and 10 tons of printed papers for packaging. The seized equipment was capable of producing cigarettes with a value of €13 million on the French market.
Leaders of the criminal network were arrested in Croatia and Slovenia. They will be handed over to the judicial authorities in Bordeaux.
In November 2021, the Slovenian Financial Administration seized an additional 12 tons of cut tobacco.