Illicit Cigarettes: Fueling Organized Crime and Connections to Terrorism in Costa Rica and Central America


An analysis of more than 20 studies developed over the last 4 years shows an alarming increase in the illicit cigarette trade and demonstrates how these illegal profits are used to support organized crime, fuel terrorism and weaken economies in Central America and globally.

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica, Oct. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Revealing figures from a detailed analysis of studies paint a panoramic picture of a surging global trade in illicit cigarettes funding groups as varied as Hezbollah and Hamas to the Central American cartel of Los Zetas. The study titled “From Ant Smuggling to an Elephant in the Market” was conducted by CID Gallup for the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce, an organization that continues to support entities involved in fighting the trade of illicit cigarettes as it threatens economies, institutions the and the security of Central American countries.

Due to the complexity and alarming growth of the illicit trade in cigarettes, AmCham urges more inter-governmental efforts and public-private alliances to identify approaches leading to the development of a holistic strategy.  Solutions must include a review of current regulations to fight smuggling, the use of technology as an ally of security forces, raising the penalties for those committing this crime, allocation of more financial and human resources to fight this activity, and awareness campaigns.

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