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December 20, 2010 

U.S. Customs Seizes Thousands of Cuban Cigars

CNN reported today (see video below) on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's recent seizure of thousands of Cuban cigars at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The seized Cuban cigars were being shipped to customers (including law firms and other businesses) in the U.S. that had ordered the cigars from various stores in Switzerland.

While some people apparently think that Cuban cigars make great Christmas gifts they are still illegal in the U.S. The long-standing U.S. sanctions imposed on Cuba and administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prohibits U.S. citizens, wherever located, from purchasing Cuban-origin cigars and other Cuban-origin products (in addition to the prohibition on most exports to Cuba). In addition, no Cuban origin cigars may be imported into the U.S. either directly or through third countries. This prohibition includes the purchase of Cuban cigars bought from third countries over the Internet.

In addition to seizing the cigars, OFAC can impose civil penalties of up to $65,000 per violation of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

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