Cuban cigar shipments into Chicago on the rise

December 6, 2010

Emily Wilensky

(Flickr/Alex Brown)

Chicago border patrol officers have had their hands full seizing Cuban cigars for the last month.

Brian Bell, a spokesman for the Chicago office of Customs and Border Protection, said customs has seized over 100,000 cigars shipping from retailers in Switzerland in the past two weeks.

“These are packaged very professionally,” Bell said. “It's not a smuggling attempt, these are businesses that are basically having people order their product online and then putting them in the mail and shipping them off, with obviously a blatant disregard for where they're going.”

Bell said parcel mail that used to ship on passenger planes is now coming though customs on freighters or cargo aircrafts. That's because of a Department of Homeland Security requirement that prevents items weighing over 16 ounces from flying on passenger planes.

Bell said all the illegal cigars will be seized and destroyed, and customs will be looking into the recipients of the illegal packages.