US Customs and Border Protection officials have seized 30,000 Cuban cigars shipped from Europe to OHare Airport in Chicago over the past two weeks and are inspecting another 70,000 cigars that are believed to have originated from Cuba.
The Customs office in Chicago usually only seizes about one dozen Cuban cigars a week so a large number like 30,000 is incredible. Customs agents have never seen this level of importation of Cuban cigars. However, the possibility exists that this amount of Cuban cigar regularly made it past customs undetected but since Customs agents are more diligent due to recent explosives found in packages, agents may be inspecting more packages thus finding more Cuban cigars than ever before.
It’s illegal to import any Cuban product, with the exception of Cuban art, into the United States without a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the US Treasury Department.
The seized Cuban cigars will be burnt, slowly. (No, just kidding The cigars will most likely destroyed.
Cuban cigars are known around the world for their quality leaf and rolling construction.
On Nov. 8, the Department of Homeland Security banned shipment of parcels weighing more than 16 ounces from passenger flights, Bell said. Officials believe that because European shippers could no longer send packages to the United States via these flights, they stockpiled parcels until they could be put on cargo freighters, which fly less frequently.
“We Googled ‘buy Cuban cigars’ and found several (European) sites, the majority of which say they don’t have any trouble sending them to the U.S.,” Bell said. Some had a disclaimer saying vendors couldn’t guarantee cigars wouldn’t get seized by customs officials, he said.