ILLEGAL CIGARETTES INCREASING PRESENCE IN BRAZIL, CHILE AND ARGENTINA

On 3rd July, Insight Crime reported that Argentina, Chile and Brazil are struggling with increased demand for smuggled cigarettes, as these provide major revenue for criminal groups and result in massive tax losses for national governments.  It says that contraband cigarettes now represent more than half the cigarettes for sale in Brazil, 24% in Chile and 12% in Argentina.  In Argentina, the number of illegal cigarettes seized by authorities jumped to some 1.2 million packs in 2018.  It says that Paraguay cigarette production spurs much of the black-market trade. That country produces some 65 billion cigarettes a year, but only consumes only some 2.5 billion, according to a 2013 study.  It is said that nearly three-quarters of illicit cigarettes in 16 Latin American countries originated in Paraguay.  The article says that former Paraguay President Horacio Cartes has been at the centre of the illegal cigarette trade in Latin America and beyond, and that his family’s company, Tabacalera Del Este, is one of the main sources of smuggled tobacco.

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/illegal-cigarettes-southern-cone-brazil-fuel-tax-losses-criminal-groups/

GIBRALTAR: ROYAL MARINES DETAIN OIL TANKER ON WAY TO SYRIA

On 4th July, the BBC reported that Royal Marines have boarded an oil tanker on its way to Syria thought to be breaching EU sanctions.  Authorities said there was reason to believe the ship, called the Grace 1, was carrying crude oil to the Banias Refinery in Syria.  Gibraltar port and law enforcement agencies detained the super tanker and its cargo with the help of the marines.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48865030

https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/press-releases/detention-of-super-tanker-the-grace-1-5062019-5095

http://chronicle.gi/2019/07/syria-bound-oil-tanker-seized-off-gibraltar/

IRAN SUMMONS BRITISH ENVOY OVER ‘ILLEGAL’ SEIZURE OF OIL TANKER IN GIBRALTAR

On 4th July, Rferl reported that Iran has summoned the British ambassador in Tehran over the “illegal seizure” of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar.  Data from Refinitiv Eikon, an industry source of data on tanker traffic, indicates the cargo sailed from Iran, according to Reuters.  The ship involved, Grace 1, is a 300,000-ton, Panamanian-flagged tanker managed by a Singapore-based company.

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-summons-british-envoy-over-illegal-seizure-of-oil-tanker-in-gibraltar/30037313.html

GERMAN TOURIST FACES 10 YEARS IN US PRISON FOR SMUGGLING ENDANGERED CACTUS SEEDS

On 3rd July, Quartz carried a great article saying that the man belongs to an avid community of cactus aficionados across Europe.  He shares photos of sightings on a website focused on cacti and succulents, and keeps more than 200 cacti at home.  The cacti involved is the coryphantha robbinsorum, commonly known as the “Cochise Pincushion”, which the US Fish and Wildlife Service put the species on the endangered list in 1986.  He was arrested in June as he went to fly to Zurich.  The seeds were in package marked with a sign saying CACTUS SEEDS — NO CITES 1 or US FISH & WILDLIFE SEEDS OR PLANTS INSIDE.  The article says that plant poaching isn’t new, but it’s a growing problem in the US.  The National Park Service is now injecting GPS trackers into Arizona’s famous saguaro cacti, and wild ginseng and other protected plants considered medicinal are regularly taken.

https://qz.com/1657884/us-border-security-busts-german-smuggling-endangered-cactus-seeds/