7 News Belize

A Modern Mess Over Cigarette Supremacy
posted (January 7, 2014)
Modern Cigarettes, it's a top Chinese brand and a major seller in the Corozal Free Zone where the agent is a well-connected Chinese businessman. But now, another company, is muscling in on his territory, and circumstances suggest that's what led police to stop a forty foot container which was on its way to the Benque Viejo border Friday.

The container from Hong Kong with one thousand cartons had already cleared customs in Belize City and was escorted by a customs guard. Police say they got information that the cigarettes are fake, or that the container may have undeclared items. That's usually a matter for customs, but the Police Mobile Interdiction Team was sent to intercept the container.

That's a major turf issue for customs, but both sides agreed to store the container at the secure Customs compound at the Benque Viejo Border until it could be re-checked.

That happened today when customs and police went into the container to verify its contents. As expected, nothing untoward was found and the container was released to the importer, Beta Benque Duty Free, which we have learned is not actually in the Benque Viejo Free Zone, but in an adjoining area.

As we've reported, the dispute in this case really is about who's controls the highly lucrative agency for Modern Cigarettes and it seems someone fed the police suspect information which led to the container being intercepted on Friday.

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