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A Ton of Undeclared Cuban Cigars Confiscated in Rome

Gregory Mottola
Posted: April 13, 2012

Updated April 16

What was supposed to be a one-ton pallet full of eggs in Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci airport ended up being over a million Euro worth of undeclared Cuban cigars.

On April 4, Italian customs, along with the Finance Guard of Rome’s Provincial Command, became suspicious after seeing a shipment of boxes each marked “30 Docenas de Huevos”—30 dozen eggs. After opening each package, officials discovered the 63 parcels actually contained boxes of Cuban cigars, ranging from Montecristo No. 2s to Cohiba Behikes, none of them declared. There were approximately 700 to 800 cigars in each parcel, amounting to approximately 50,000 cigars.

Cigars that are exported from Cuba to Italy are typically declared at customs and sent straight to Italy’s regional distributor Diadema SpA, a partner of Habanos S.A., the Cuban company that controls Cuba’s cigar industry. The cigars are then taxed and sold to tobacconists throughout Italy, including the country’s two La Casa del Habano franchises, one in Rome and one in Milan.

In a statement, Habanos described the seized cigars as counterfeit, but Cigar Insider contacted Gonzalo Fernández de Navarrete González Valerio, subdirector of marketing operations for Habanos, for further clarification.

For more on the story, see the next Cigar Insider.

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Comments   20 comment(s)

Ryan Britz — Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada,  —  April 13, 2012 2:42pm ET

Start the bidding! $1000 bucks right here (as long as they're real)...


John Adams April 13, 2012 3:43pm ET

Not sure how 63 boxes of Cubans are worth a million Euro, or am I missing something here?


George C — Commack, NY, USA,  —  April 13, 2012 11:10pm ET

It's those ridiculously priced Behikes. Didn't this happen in Chicago a while back ?


Sean Ferguson — Wenatchee, WA, USA,  —  April 14, 2012 6:54am ET

There's no way 63 boxes of Cubans came out to a million euro. That's close to 16,000 euro average per box, and even with ridiculously overpriced Behikes, it's not possible unless 40 of those boxes are 50 year old, -true- pre-embargo, very hard to find collectors sticks.


Shawn Plate April 14, 2012 11:58am ET

The way its written is a little confusing, but I'm pretty sure its saying that there were multiple packages each containing 63 boxes.


Paul Bell April 14, 2012 2:46pm ET

Those must have been Castro's personal smokes at that price


Michael Tarone — Bellefonte, PA, USA,  —  April 14, 2012 9:15pm ET

It was a one ton pallet that contained cigars, each "parcel" contained 63 boxes, so I'd say there were a lot of parcels in that one ton pallet.


GREGORY MOTTOLA — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES,  —  April 16, 2012 10:55am ET

Gentlemen,
Please allow me to clarify. The pallet contained 63 parcels. Each parcel contained 700-800 cigars, which amounted to around 50,000 individual sticks. The retail value, according to Habanos S.A., is approximately 1 million Euro. Apologies for any confusion.
Thank You,
Greg


Brett Shavers — Az,  —  April 16, 2012 2:17pm ET

Gregory is right. How on earth they got 63 boxes out of 50,000 cigars is beyond me. A box of Cohiba Behike contains 10 cigars and can run up to $500.00 (US) each box. It's a shame my shipment of "eggs" won't arrive.


Michael Tarone — Bellefonte, PA, USA,  —  April 18, 2012 3:01am ET

I don't know about the Cihiba Benkike, but I have had Monetristo #2 cigars. An excellent cigar. $500 a box? Hmmm. I think not. There's a limit to what I'd pay for any cigar, and that's WAY above any limit I could ever muster. I'll stick with non Cuban cigars. Excellent smokes, affordable for even us peons.


Lisa Rotenberg — Toronto, ON, Canada,  —  April 18, 2012 1:41pm ET

The pallet contained 63 parcels. Each parcel contained 700-800 cigars, which amounted to around 50,000 individual sticks.

Read, gentlemen. :-)


John Klassen — St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada,  —  April 18, 2012 4:03pm ET



This is my first comment to CA, but, I will say that the Behike's, if you are able to go to Cuba and get them are not that bad in price.

We just returned and they were about $20CADea with the exchange. I wish I bought more when I had the chance.

Still, they are averaging a cost of about 20euros per cigar. It seems a bit high.


PAUL BYRNE — TORONTO, ON, CANADA,  —  April 24, 2012 6:12pm ET

Okay, I'm still confused. Let me see if I got this right now.

So apparently a train leaves New York City loaded with a pallet that contains 63 parcels of 700-800 cigars. The train is moving south at 65 mph.

At the same time a train leaves Havana heading north with 50,000 eggs. I'm assuming there's a bridge to Florida somewhere.

The question is, what time and location will the two trains meet so that we can all enjoy a few great smokes and an omelette?

P.S. I'm assuming the train that left NYC was AmTrak and that's how it somehow goes lost and wound up in Italy?

How did I do?


Preston Weiters Jr — Jersey City,, NJ, 07305, US.,  —  April 25, 2012 12:29am ET

4/25/12, I could understand why people would smuggle Cuban products into Italy. Italian friends of mine in NJ tell me smoke shops are scarce over there.


Rick Young — Thornton, CO, USA,  —  April 25, 2012 10:03am ET

63 "parcels" with 700 to 800 per parcel = 50,000 sticks, into 1 million Euro = 20 Euro per stick - I agree that's a little high, but not sure what the taxes, etc are in Italy. Pretty sure tobacco is pretty pricey in Italy, so this may be correct.


Maurice Kosich — Scarborough, Ontario, Canada,  —  April 25, 2012 4:20pm ET

20 Euro a stick is cheap especially for Behikes. Here in Toronto Canada they are probably around $80 CDN and about $38 of the native reservation. OUCH


Luca Grassi — Lugano, Ticino, Svizzera,  —  April 27, 2012 10:05am ET

I'm from Italy. Here the price for a Behike 52 is 28 Euro, a Behike 54 is worth 32 Euro and for a Behike 56 you have to pay 35 Euros (more than 40 USD)... I would like to have a Behike for just 20 Euro...


Vlad Petrov June 3, 2012 11:26pm ET

He, I just bought it from Cuban airport Montecristo N2 for 8 bucks for a cigar. What a deal!


chris olivo — washingtonville, new york, usa,  —  September 3, 2012 6:00pm ET

I sure could use some "eggs" right about now.


Jason Marques October 27, 2013 12:21pm ET

Cuban eggs sound delish!


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