A very large factory of counterfeit cigarettes dismantled this week near Rouen. The police seized more than 100 tons of products, the national gendarmerie announced on Sunday. The traffic was brought to light by information, via Europol, transmitted at the end of 2022 to the Rouen research section, reporting international cigarette trafficking in a warehouse in an industrial zone in Saint-Aubin-les-Elbeuf. , near Rouen.
Nine people arrested
Investigators discover rotations of trucks loading and unloading bulky boxes and pallets. On January 12, when two 38-ton trucks arrived on the scene, around sixty gendarmes invaded the factory. Nine people, all of foreign nationality, aged 21 to 55, were arrested and placed in police custody. The majority of these people are of Moldovan nationality.
More than 100 tons of products (55 tons of cigarettes, 50 tons of labels, paper filters, packaging, and 18 tons of tobacco residues and cigarette waste) were seized. The resale price of seized counterfeit tobacco is estimated at 13.7 million euros.
On the spot, the investigators discover a real cigarette factory with a production unit comprising two lines, one for making cigarettes from raw tobacco, another dedicated to packaging in packets, then in cartridges in the name of a well-known manufacturer. .
Opening of a judicial inquiry
There is a storage area where the cartons of cigarettes are packaged in cardboard on film-covered pallets, all ready for delivery. Finally, a living area completes the set, with a dormitory equipped with beds, a kitchen area, a dining area and a relaxation area that allowed criminals to live on site. There was also a generator.
All of the products seized were immediately destroyed, as were the production machines, the gendarmerie said. The gendarmes also seized two road sets (38-tonne tractors and semi-trailers), elevators, pallet trucks, tools, household appliances and a ton of foodstuffs which were donated to the food bank.
In view of the scope of this case, the Rouen public prosecutor’s office has withdrawn in favor of the Junalco (national jurisdiction for the fight against organized crime) of Paris, which has requested in particular the Central Office for the Fight against Itinerant Delinquency (OCLDI) and the judicial investigation department of Finance (SEJF). The nine people arrested were presented Saturday afternoon to the Paris prosecutor’s office for the opening of a judicial investigation.