A Ton of Undeclared Cuban Cigars Confiscated in Rome

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.

"Cuban eggs sound delish!" —October 27, 2013 12:51 PM
"I sure could use some "eggs" right about now." —September 3, 2012 18:30 PM
" He, I just bought it from Cuban airport Montecristo N2 for 8 bucks for a cigar. What a deal!" —June 3, 2012 23:56 PM
"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..." —April 27, 2012 10:35 AM
"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" —April 25, 2012 16:50 PM
"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." —April 25, 2012 10:33 AM
"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." —April 25, 2012 00:59 AM
"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?" —April 24, 2012 18:42 PM
" 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." —April 18, 2012 16:33 PM
"The pallet contained 63 parcels. Each parcel contained 700-800 cigars, which amounted to around 50,000 individual sticks. Read, gentlemen. :-)" —April 18, 2012 14:11 PM
"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." —April 18, 2012 03:31 AM
"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." —April 16, 2012 14:47 PM
"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" —April 16, 2012 11:25 AM
"I just read an article about Cohibas earlier. http://www.articlesbase.com/shopping-articles/cohiba-cigars-and-you-5827303.html" —April 16, 2012 02:21 AM
"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." —April 14, 2012 21:45 PM
"Those must have been Castro's personal smokes at that price" —April 14, 2012 15:16 PM
"The way its written is a little confusing, but I'm pretty sure its saying that there were multiple packages each containing 63 boxes." —April 14, 2012 12:28 PM
"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." —April 14, 2012 07:24 AM
"It's those ridiculously priced Behikes. Didn't this happen in Chicago a while back ?" —April 13, 2012 23:40 PM
"Not sure how 63 boxes of Cubans are worth a million Euro, or am I missing something here?" —April 13, 2012 16:13 PM
"Start the bidding! $1000 bucks right here (as long as they're real)..." —April 13, 2012 15:12 PM