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  1. ITV Report

Escaped British prisoner arrested in Spanish underground cigarette factory raid

Dobbs, who is nicknamed "Dobbo" and from Malton in North Yorkshire, was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years in prison in January 2014. Credit: Police Handout

An escaped British prisoner has been arrested in Spain after police discovered a subterranean counterfeit cigarette factory - 13 feet under a stable.

The underground plant, which had a full production line and could produce 3,500 cigarettes an hour, is said to be the first of its kind found in the European Union.

Daniel Dobbs, 31, was allegedly part of the gang behind the operation, which Europol said generated more than half a million pounds (635,000 euros) in criminal profits per week.

Dobbs, who is nicknamed "Dobbo" and from Malton in North Yorkshire, was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years in prison in January 2014, after he was convicted of trafficking heroin and amphetamines.

He vanished from his cell at HMP Hatfield Lakes, a category D open prison in South Yorkshire in November 2018.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) tracked him down to Spain, where he was living under a false name and he was arrested as the Spanish Civil Guard smashed an organised crime group last week.

He was held alongside 19 other people, including other Britons, as police seized more than three million cigarettes, along with 20kg of hashish, 144kg of marijuana, three weapons, and GPS tracking and jamming devices.

Access to the bunker factory in the Malaga province of southern Spain was hidden by a shipping container.

Europol said the facility, which had been operating since 2019, included bunkbeds and living quarters for workers, who were forced to toil in dangerous and toxic conditions and not allowed to leave on their own.

Dobbs will be returned to the UK once the Spanish investigation and any judicial proceedings have ended, the NCA said.

Alison Abbott, of the NCA's offender lifetime management unit, said: "Dobbs's arrest is a fantastic result and shows the power of our international partnerships.

"British fugitives should know that we will catch up with them no matter where they are."