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Spain gang bust: Ukrainians exploited in illegal tobacco operation

Police in Spain have broken up a gang they say ran three illegal tobacco factories where Ukrainian refugees worked in poor conditions.

The operations were found in three regions of Spain and 27 people have been arrested.

The gang is alleged to have smuggled large quantities of tobacco turned into counterfeit cigarettes.

The factories could make more than half a million cigarette packs daily, which were sold across Spain and abroad.

Police said the Ukrainians, who had fled Russia's invasion of their country, were living "crammed" into prefabricated shelters within the factories.

They were working long hours and were not leaving, to avoid detection, as some had entered the country illegally.

Meanwhile, the bosses of the organisation enjoyed a "life of luxury", allegedly laundering money for their tobacco smuggling operation.

The authorities seized tobacco products worth €37.5m ($41m; £33m), luxury vehicles, jewellery and large quantities of cash during their raid. More than 20 homes, industrial buildings and shops were searched.

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