If you are waiting for your shipment of Cuban cigars to arrive from Switzerland, there's a good chance that you won't receive them. Chicago Customs and Border Protection has confiscated an estimated 100,000 Cuban cigars shipped directly from Switzerland.
"It started on November 8 after the Department of Homeland Security decided that no mail over 16 ounces can travel as cargo on passenger airlines," said Brian Bell, public affairs officer for CBP. "Mail from Swiss post used to fly on passenger airplanes. When that stopped, the mail was shipped as freight on cargo aircraft."
This new classification meant more packages on less planes and closer scrutiny of incoming packages as they arrived on pallets for inspection. According to the official press release, CBP located several online retailers in Switzerland who sell genuine Cuban cigars and are shipping orders to the United States despite the current embargo.
"It seems that there are numerous online retailers with shops based out of Switzerland," said Bell. "We normally confiscate 10 to 12 shipments per week of cigars, but no one has ever seen this kind of volume anywhere, except maybe in Cuba. There's usually a green tab right on the box that says 'cigars.'"
According to Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, CBP officers are required to seize, forfeit and destroy all Cuban cigars and all other Cuban imported products.
For more on the story, see tomorrow' s Cigar Insider.