Smoked out: Police raid fake cigarette factory in Latvia

Over 7 million cigarettes and around 20 tons of tobacco were seized and 11 arrests made as police raided a clandestine cigarette factory discovered in Latvia this week, local media reported Friday citing the Baltic country’s law enforcement authorities.

According to information provided by the state police, the illegal cigarette factory, one of the largest ever uncovered in Latvia, was in a hangar in the central Latvian district of Jelgava.

Eleven persons, aged 25 to 55, were detained during the police operation. Eight of them are foreign nationals, according to the state police.

Police raided the hangar on Tuesday, Feb.4, after an investigation into illegal storage, transportation and distribution of large amounts of tobacco products.

Altogether, 7,387,969 cigarettes of the Prince brand and 20.16 tons of tobacco were seized during the searches. None of the products had any excise stamps.

The officers also confiscated the production and packaging equipment as well as various materials like foil, polyethylene and cigarette filters.

Investigators presume that the illegal factory has probably been operating for a year, making cigarettes for selling outside Latvia. The investigation into the case is ongoing.