Europe

Workers found trapped in illegal tobacco factory in Spain

Cigarettes discovered in Spanish factory Image copyright AFP
Image caption The haul included 153,000 packs of cigarettes

An illegal cigarette factory has been uncovered in Spain where six foreign workers were found gasping for air before being rescued, authorities said.

Twelve British nationals suspected of running the factory were arrested.

The bunker under horse stables in the southern province of Malaga could produce up to 3,500 cigarettes an hour, according to Spain's Guardia Civil.

It is the first underground counterfeit cigarette factory found in the EU, Europol and Spanish police said.

Six Ukrainian and Lithuanian workers were found struggling to breathe due to a generator designed to pump air into the bunker running out of power, police said.

Illegal cigarette factory in Malaga Image copyright AFP
Image caption The underground bunker is in the southern province of Malaga

Twenty people had been arrested earlier in the day but had not informed police that the workers were still inside. The panicked workers banged and shouted from below as police searched the area.

Officers eventually found the workers and freed them.

In a statement (in Spanish), the Guardia Civil said police had confiscated 153,000 packs of cigarettes, more than 17 tons of rolling tobacco, 20 kg (44 lbs) of hashish and 144 kg of marijuana.

Illegal cigarette factory in Malaga Image copyright AFP
Image caption The factory could produce up to 3,500 counterfeit cigarettes an hour
Illegal cigarette factory in Malaga Image copyright AFP
Image caption Six workers were left gasping for air

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