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Stogie News: Miami Counterfeit Controversy

17 Oct 2006

Back in May, we reported that Florida-based Altadis U.S.A. – the country’s largest manufacturer of cigars – declared war on the counterfeit stogie trade and how a subsequent crackdown of law enforcement officials in Miami seized over $20 million in fake cigars, wrappers, and packaging. What we didn’t tell you (because we didn’t know) is that Altadis funded, at least in part, the investigation that led to the seizure.

The Miami Herald recently reported that Altadis “paid tens of thousands of dollars to fund part of an undercover Miami-Dade Police probe of five suspects charged with trafficking in counterfeit cigars.” According to court records, the company – which manufactures, among others, the Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and H. Upmann brands – footed a $17,750 bill for undercover “buys,” hired an informant, and also paid for hauling and storage costs leading up to trial.

Because police departments traditionally fund their own investigations, this revelation calls into question the legitimacy of Altadis’ allegations against the alleged fake counterfeiters. But, given the nature of the case, it also challenges the legitimacy of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

In court papers, Altadis claims it holds the exclusive license for the U.S. trademarks for the famous Cuban cigar brands Montecristo, H. Upmann, Por Larranaga, Romeo y Julieta, Saint Luis Rey, and Trinidad. Altadis holds those rights because its parent company, based in Spain, bought them from Cuba’s exiled cigar-baron families decades after Castro’s revolution in 1959. will be watching this case closely, and we’ll keep you updated on all major developments and their implications for the cigar world. Until then, it wouldn’t hurt to revisit our post on spotting a fake.

Patrick A


2 Responses to “Stogie News: Miami Counterfeit Controversy”

  1. Anonymous Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 12:14 pm #

    What’s the problem with a private company footing the bill for a police investigation of illegal activity? Sure, Altadis has something to gain here, but what if the police weren’t going to investigate otherwise? I’m just throwing this out there…

  2. Anonymous Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 2:03 pm #

    So next time I want to get the police to investigate a crime I have to bribe them? Real fair…