Philip Thompson, Associate, Property Rights Alliance
In just first few weeks of 2017 police over the world have been busy seizing counterfeit cigarettes. In Ireland investigators, including Detector Dog Alfie, seized 60,000 illegal cigarettes with a street value of €32,500 ($34,000 USD), just beating out the Canadian residents caught smuggling 53,600 cigarettes a few days earlier. In South Africa investigators seized 1720 boxes of counterfeit cigarettes with a street value of $19,000, and in November the small county of Nottingham in the U.K. announced seizures of counterfeit cigarettes increased threefold from the year before to nearly 500,000 cigarettes. That is nothing compared to what police will seize in Wales this year. This week police there seized 750,000 counterfeit cigarettes, with an estimated value of £427,000 ($535,671 USD), from a gang that used a false wall, hidden chute and a baby monitor to conceal their activities.
Counterfeit sales continue to play such a sizable role in financing terror that it was mentioned in two reports last month – one from the White House on Intellectual Property Enforcement the other the House Taskforce on Stopping Terror Financing. The House report included a statement from General John F. Kelly of U.S. Southern Command that Hezbollah continues to raise money through “lucrative illicit activities like money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods and drugs” he named Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Panama as primary locations.