NAPLES, Fla.- A recent bust by the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco has WINK News uncovering a growing underground trend. More than $100,000 worth of cigars and tens of thousand of counterfeits were seized in the Tampa area.
It may seem like famous Cuban Cigars are circulating in Southwest Florida, but we’ve learned many of them are fake.
“Nine out of 10 are not legitimate,” said Marcus Daniel.
Daniel has been in the cigar business for 20 years. He owns a cigar shop on 8th Avenue South in downtown Naples.
Daniel tells WINK News that most counterfeits come from Cuba. They’re known as house cigars, “a lot of people will supplement their income by making cigars inside their houses and then people will come and collect them and package them and put them out on the street.”
Daniel said most of the ingredients needed to make the cigars are stolen from the factories.
“They will not ever really get all the perfect pieces to the puzzle to make that cigar the ways it’s intended to be made so the cigars don’t come out right.”
He said this gives Cuban cigars a bad name because it fools the consumer.
“When they smoke a counterfeit cigar, it’s not doing justice to that cigar brand because they’re not getting the actual product.”
Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco said this most recent bust led to various seizures and even more arrests. They said that agents will remain committed to combating counterfeit goods.
“I’m sure if they keep looking into it, they’ll probably find a lot more out there. I think that was the tip of the iceberg,” said Daniel.