It's about a 250-mile stretch between Arturo Fuente Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Somewhere in between, a 40-foot shipping container loaded with hundreds of thousands of Fuente cigars was stolen.
According to A. Fuente & Co. the cargo container was loaded onto a truck at the port for pick-up—but the truck never made it to Tampa.
"The container was actually loaded on the delivery truck, and then the truck was stolen," Karen R. Smith, vice president of The Fuente Companies told Cigar Aficionado. "The Miami-Dade police have found the cab, but not the container. And now, the FBI is involved in the investigation."
Smith did not comment on the value of the cigars and said that the adjuster would have to assess the dollar amount of the loss before she could give an accurate estimate. The company learned of the theft on April 3.
When large shipments of cigars are stolen, they are often sold shortly afterward to local cigar shops and tobacconists at severely discounted prices. According to Smith, this should be a major red flag.
"We are telling our retailers to look out for Fuente cigars being sold outside of the normal channels," added Smith.
In an official letter, company president and owner Carlos "Carlito" Fuente Jr., stated:
"I was stunned—this has never happened to us in over a century of business. Unfortunately, we can't replace the hundreds of thousands of cigars that were stolen, and this loss will cause more shortages of Fuente cigars this year. We will allocate our cigars in a fair manner...We have been expanding our factory in the Dominican Republic for the last two years and we hope to increase production in the future."
This is a developing story. Check back to cigaraficionado.com for updates.