On 19th January, an article in the Americas Quarterly, sponsored by Philip Morris International, sets out to show how illegal tobacco has become a vehicle to finance organised crime and terrorist groups.  It says that worldwide the OECD estimates that trade in counterfeit and pirated goods alone is an almost $500 billion business a year globally and the number continues to increase.  The article says that, according to a report from KPMG, 15.6% of the cigarettes consumed in the Americas are illegal, representing a volume of almost 40 billion illegal cigarettes, and governments in the region are losing an estimated $4.6 billion in tax revenue every year due to the illegal tobacco trade.  By avoiding taxes, illegal tobacco products are vastly profitable.  The article points the finger at free zones, saying that criminals based in Panama’s Colon Free Zone supply up to 80% of all illegal cigarettes consumed between the Rio Grande and the Amazon rivers.  It also says that new players in the illicit trade arena intend to smuggle smoke-free products, mainly through e-commerce platforms and social media channels.


Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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