Monday, February 11, 2008

We're idiots

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

The leaf merchant was not impressed with our suggestion to track down a cigarette counterfeiter in Paraguay and interview him for an upcoming article in Tobacco Reporter about the illicit tobacco trade.

"You'll never find one. And even if you do, they will kill you."

Good. That confirms our idea has legs.

We will travel to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay to find an illegal trader and visit some legitimate manufacturers en route to get their perspectives.


Valeu said...

Counterfeit cigarette production is rare and occurs with one or two manufacturers in Paraguay.

Trading with them only provides encouragement and is not recommended.

Contrary to popular belief it is not a crime to manufacture cigarettes and clearly some good amount of those produced in Paraguay end up in Brazil. Why?

The border is porous, so porous that if it is plugged in one place it leaks in another. If the trade was completety controlled in Paraguay it would move to bolivia where the border is really porous.

But this is not the reason. The fundamental cause is tax. Brazil's cigarette tax at around 80%. It is one of the highest in the world and is unprecedented for a developing nation. It hikes cigarette prices from $2 (in Ciudad del Este - Paraguay)a carton to around $17 (in Brazil.)

RBJ said...

You do not say what experience you have in enforcement. I hope you have an expert with you although I doubt this because anyone who is good would not take inexperienced 'passengers'. What you are attempting to do may seem exciting but could also be foolhardy. If you speak to people then these people may become targets. Counterfeiting is less common that tax evasion smuggling. Both are highly lucrative and attract the worst form of criminals, no better than drug barons and they can be just as violent. You should pay attention to what your leaf merchant advised you.