Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In Florida Trial on Fake Cuban Cigars Starts

Should be interesting, given the potential jury pool in South Florida:

Suspected Cuban cigar counterfeiters from Little Havana to Hialeah may be in big trouble. Altadis U.S.A. has helped finance an undercover Miami-Dade Police probe of five suspects charged with trafficking in counterfeit cigars.

The first of three federal trials, set for today, raises controversial issues about the integrity of the investigation, the fake Cuban cigar market, and the U.S. trade embargo against the Castro government. Altadis U.S.A. fronted at least $17,750 to police for five undercover ''buys'' of allegedly fake Cuban cigars, boxes and labeling materials in three separate cases. Police returned about $4,000 in unused money.

Altadis also footed the bill for hauling away and storing seized materials for the upcoming trials, court records show.

An Altadis rep says that a Miami-Dade counterfeiter of 1,000 boxes deprives Altadis U.S.A. of $150,000 to $200,000 in sales.

For more, go here, the Miami Herald (the source of this post).