After two years tracking a counterfeit cigarette gang, authorities swooped on sites in 11 provinces, arresting 41 suspects, according to mainland newspaper reports. Investigators believe the network was responsible for producing cigarettes valued at more than RMB120 million.
The authorities said the gang was well organized, often switching phones and locations, making the raids extremely difficult to mount, according to Chinese Business View. The underground operation came to light in 2011, when officers arrested a retailer in a county in Shaanxi province, the report said. Based on further investigation in the county and Xian, the police launched a two-year undercover operation, which eventually led them to a second retailer, a woman, working out of the capital and trailed her for two years. She led them to supply chains in the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, and Henan earlier this year.
The police said the suspects used sophisticated techniques to elude the authorities, including bank accounts under fake names, a coded language and constantly shifting drop locations.
The arrests were carried out between September and December this year.