Typically, the mention of Jamaican drug smugglers crops up one word – marijuana; however, a recent transition may surprise some as the joints and narcotics once exported from the island-nation are replaced by something far less sinister, and considerably more legal: Cigarettes. Authorities speculate that the trend is driven by the typical drug lord’s desire to evade harsh narcotics-related penalties; but, they apparently forgot that a breach of the Trade Marks Act can also garner immense fines, and serious jail time. In other words, smuggling cigarettes is also very illegal.
Nevertheless, the industry is shifting gears from wacky-tobacky back down to just regular old tobacco. Yep, just last week, $300-million worth of illegal Craven A cigarettes were discovered; a marked increase from last month, when over 400 cases of illicit cigarettes (valued at $120 million) were seized by the Jamaica Customs Contraband Enforcement Team.
According to the director of corporate and regulatory affairs at British American Tobacco (BAT), Michael Prideaux, the estimated global market for illicit cigarettes is around 390 billions sticks a year ( which translates to 6 percent of this planet’s cigarette consumption). A rough estimate suggests that 44-50 million of these cancer-sticks find their illicit way to Jamaica.
And that’s only the beginning as more international drug kingpins try for their share of this lucrative business.