The latest round of arrests and seizures brought on by General Cigar Co. could lead to the confiscation of cigars with a retail value of more than $100,000.
In what has become a yearly occurrence, General—which has the U.S. rights to brands such as Cohiba, Hoyo de Monterrey and Partagas, as well as global rights to Macanudo, CAO and others—has announced the latest successful anti-counterfietting operation.
According to a press release, the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco (ABT) has seized over $100,000 worth of cigars and “tens of thousands of counterfeit cigar bands and boxes.” General says it contacted the Tampa office of the ABT over a year ago after becoming suspicious regarding a counterfeit operation. Beginning on Feb. 28, the operation has led to various seizures and even arrests.
The company specifically identified Island Cigars Corp. of Oldsmar, Fla. as the key target. That raid resulted in the rest of Rolando Gruart, president of Island Cigars, and Constanza Sanchez, the company’s treasurer. The company’s website shows a picture of bundled Cohiba cigars that appear to be copying the current Cuban-styling of the brand. While General Cigar Co. does not sell any products that resemble that appearance, it does own the rights to Cohiba, making these products illegal.
“We remain fully committed to anti-counterfeiting initiatives that protect consumers and greatly appreciate the efforts of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco and its special agents,” said Dan Carr, president of General Cigar Co., in a press release. “The Company will continue to vigorously defend our trademarks and support criminal investigations and prosecutions relating to the distribution or sale of counterfeit versions of our cigars.”
General Cigar Co. is a division of Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG).