HAVANA. Ana Leonor Díaz, Grupo Decoro - National police and Customs
inspectors said they had confiscated 11,935 boxes of counterfeit cigars
and closed more than 150 underground factories in a series of raids.
The cigars, bearing the most prestigious brands the Cuban government
sells as a source of foreign exchange, sell at lower prices in the black
market, primarily to tourists, and experts say their quality is
indistinguishable from that of the officially approved product.
Customs agents said they had confiscated hundreds of boxes from
visitors leaving the island from the Havana and Varadero airports.
In a series of raids in three Havana municipalities, police found more
than 150 factories where the cigars were made, packed in cedar boxes
and fitted with the rings that would presumably attest to their
Tobacco industry authorities adopted a holographic seal years back that
was supposedly tamper-proof. Yet, during the last two years, they have
uncovered evidence of a parallel, clandestine industry engaged in the
sale and export of cigars that they have not been able to eradicate.