Carreras Lauds Police On Historic $500 M Cigarette Seizure

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Carreras Limited has commended the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch (C-TOC) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force on its major bust of 890 cases of illegal cigarettes valued at over $500 million, during a targeted operation in Westgate Hill in St James yesterday.

A man has since been taken into custody following the seizure and is to be questioned later today with a view of charging him with breaches of the Trademark Act and Customs Act.

According to Carreras Managing Director Marcus Steele, “this is the largest find of illegal cigarettes in recent history, and whilst we are pleased with the enforcement efforts of the police, our concerns have been further heightened as to how these quantities of illegal cigarettes could have gone undetected at our ports. The number of cases seized amounts to almost one container load, and so it is quite disturbing to imagine that a container of illegal products could just slip through the port.”

The company used the opportunity to point out that the estimated loss of revenues to the Government from the 890 cases confiscated amounts to $190 million.

It added that the illicit trade in cigarettes in Jamaica continues to grow, adding that the observed constant supply of illegal cigarettes in the market unfortunately indicates an unabated flow of the illegal products through our ports.

It disclosed that the latest finding from their quarterly research study on the presence of illicit cigarettes in the market, show that the incidence has risen to 28 per cent coming from 24 per cent a few months ago.

This proliferation it said continues to be a significant challenge not only for the legal tobacco industry, but also for the Government, who they estimate continues to lose almost $5 billion in revenues annually as a result of this illicit trade.

The company said it also wish to again highlight the nexus between the illicit trade and the criminal underworld.

“Carreras is therefore encouraged by the vigorous efforts of Assistant Commissioner of Police, Fitz Bailey, Assistant Superintendent Victor Barrett, and team in making major seizures like this which is no doubt a major win against organized crime,” said Steele.

“We will also use this opportunity to continue urging the Government, to implement stronger border and port protection mechanisms to stem the inflow of these illicit products into the market.”

Finally, Carreras continues to impress upon the Government, the need for a sustainable tobacco excise policy that recognizes the direct link between increasing tobacco excise and the proliferation of illegal cigarettes within the market. Carreras remains ready to support the Government in the fight against illicit trade.”

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