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Florida Boaters Charged with Smuggling Thousands of Cuban Cigars

Gregory Mottola
Posted: May 27, 2008

Two Fort Myers, Florida, men have been indicted on charges of illegally importing Cuban cigars, rum and other merchandise into the United States.

Douglas Hiner, 68, was charged last Wednesday and Martin Sengseis, 43, was charged on February 27 in separate smuggling cases.

Agents from the U.S. Coast Guard raided Hiner's sailboat on May 13 on its return from Havana, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida. Once aboard, officials discovered 361 Cuban cigars and Cuban cigarettes stowed in specialized compartments designed for smuggling. The investigation led to the discovery of a storage facility in North Fort Myers used by Hiner to house more Cuban contraband. Agents seized 27,000 Cuban cigars—more than 1,000 boxes—and 42 bottles of rum from the facility.

Sengseis was caught on February 21 when he ran his sailing vessel aground near a Fort Myers beach, according to the attorney general's office. During the course of a routine boarding, Coast Guard officers and marine interdiction agents uncovered 364 boxes of Cuban cigars, 45 bottles of Cuban rum, 30 pounds of Cuban coffee and 100 cartons of Cuban cigarettes.

If convicted, each man faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Both cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert P. Barclift in Fort Myers.

For the complete story, see the next issue of Cigar Insider.

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