Tobacco Cartel Dabbles with Cigars Made in Mexico

The tobacco cartelwrapped in the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) Cno longer only controls the cigarette smuggling and the extortion to force small businesses to sell them, but it would also be financing 12 percent of national production, which is acquired in small stores and even on social networks.

There are at least three cigar factories in the country, according to reports consulted by MILLENNIUM, Located in Jalisco, State of Mexico and Campecherelated to Criminal organizations and currently produce cigarette packs breaching tax and health obligations.

In October 2018, MILLENNIUM documented the existence of the Tobacco cartel, a criminal organization in charge of extorting merchants to exclusively sell tobacco products. Tobacco International Holdings (TIH)through companies registered in Mexico as Braxico Manufacturing and Bradisthen operated by José Guadalupe Varela González and the Cedano Filippini family.

But now, the same group is behind the national production – even under the protection of state governments – for the manufacture and distribution of at least 24 brands of cigarettes manufactured by the companies Braxico Manufacturing, SA de CVstill with operations; Sijara International Manufacturing, S.A. de C.V.as well as Burley & Virginia Tobacco Company, S.A. de C.V.

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Said companies have been characterized by being omitted before the printing of the Security Code, issued by the Tax Administration Service (SAT)which has also left them in the field of illegality. MILLENNIUM confirmed for this delivery, the presence of packs without a security code from the three companies in different cities of the country, especially from Burley & Virginia Tobacco Company, S.A. de C.V.

In the pandemic that tobacco use represents, smuggling is no longer the biggest problem in Mexico. In 2021, oxford economics estimated that 18.8 percent of the cigarettes consumed are illicit, of which 12.1 percent would be illegal national production, and only 6.7 percent are contraband products. That is, two out of every three illegal cigarettes are made in Mexico, and are sold between 20 and 35 pesos, while formal packs are worth 70 pesos on average.

The National Alliance of Small Businesses (ANPEC)), where cigarettes represent at least 25 percent of sales, has located the sale of illegal cigarettes in “territories and towns that are under the laws of criminal gangs” such as Fresnillo and Jerez, in Zacatecas; Celaya, Guanajuato; Tierra Caliente, in Michoacán and Guerrero; The Huasteca Potosina, Tamaulipas and Hidalgo; Laredo, Reynosa in Tamaulipas; as well as various communities in Sonora, Chihuahua, Colima, Campeche and Chiapas; while in the metropolis, it is operated through the loose cigarette.

There are at least three cigar factories in the country |  Jorge Carballo
There are at least three cigar factories in the country | Jorge Carballo

In interview, Cuauhtemoc Riveraleader of the ANPEC, explains that the phenomenon is similar to the collection for the right of flat, where criminal groups “impose the sale of cigarettes, in its different formats.”

But small businesses, he warns, “do not do it willingly or because they want to, but for threatsbecause they live in a state of terror, in fact, where if you don’t do what these gangs ask or demand of you, they get you and your family into trouble.”

In sanitary terms, the sale represents the consumption of clay, lead, and even feces, while, in numbers, it means losses from tax evasion of up to 13.5 billion pesos a year, which are capitalized by organized crime.

In its report “The Illegal Trade in Tobacco Products”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed adherence to international protocols, and suggests that eliminating the illicit trade governments could earn 31 billion dollars a year and every six years a million people would be spared from a premature death attributable to tobacco consumption, problems that become relevant this World No Tobacco Day celebrated on May 31.

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The factory has the capacity to produce up to 10 thousand cigarettes per minute, the investment was 26 million dollars in the final stretch of the mandate of Carlos Miguel Aysa Gonzalezand generates at least 300 direct jobs in Campeche: the problem is that it produces illegal cigarettes – without a security code from the SAT.

The tobacco -whose origin is uncertain- is wrapped in tiny sticks of special paper; the cellulose filters they are also made in the same plant; and the packing machines it has the capacity to process up to 300 packs per minute in an automated manner; 20 cigarettes at a time that are wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in the pack.

TIH would be the company linked to tobacco cartel, which today has two subsidiaries: Braxico Manufacturing and Sijara International Manufacturing, S.A. de C.V.

According to the report, Sijara International Manufacturing, S.A. de C.V. (RFC – SIM170626T10), located at Avenida Kikab 2 S/N, Colonia Solidaridad Urbana, CP 24060, in Campeche, is under the direction of Jose Guadalupe Varela Gonzalezthe same owner of Tobacco International Holdings Corporation.

Millions of illegal cigarettes have been destroyed |  Jorge Carballo
Millions of illegal cigarettes have been destroyed | Jorge Carballo

Although the company has the sanitary license 20 04 002 FT 02 for the “manufacturing of cigarettes and the manufacture of cigars and other products”, it is not active in the list of importers of the SAT.

Braxico Manufacturing, SA de CV (RFC – BMA101208LHA) – is located at Teodoro Albarrán Pliego, number 106, Colonia Santa Cruz Atzcapotzaltongo, CP 50290, in Toluca de Lerdo, State of Mexico. said company, no longer has a valid health license before Cofepris, since it dates from 2018, but it is active in the Exporters registry.

The brands they produce are: Laredo Swiss Blend Reds, Laredo Swiss Blend Blues, Laredo Swiss Blend Greens, Laredo Swiss Blend Golds, Economical, Studio 54 Red, Studio 54 Blue, Studio 54 Black, Studio 54 Green, Studio 54 Gold KSB, Peninsula KSB Reds, Peninsula Greens, and Paddock KSB 20.

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For sale on Facebook

The persecution they have undertaken ministerial authorities, like the operation carried out last February in the ‘Fasti’ convenience chains in Xalapa, achieving the seizure of 7,000 cigarettes without security codes, has forced the buying and selling to be via the Internet, wholesale and retail.

Production begins at Carretera Ex Hacienda del Castillo, Km. 0.5, Colonia El Castillo, Jalisco, CP 45680, by the third company indicated: Burley & Virginia Tobacco Company, S.A. de C.V. (RFC – BAV090610GR5) – whose legal representative, at least until 2018, was Alberto Miguel Mongerot Gonzalez.

The factory has the sanitary license ‘14070FT0018’ from Cofepris, valid until May 2022, for the “cigar making”and is active in the Register of Exporters of the SAT, however, their products are not in the brand catalog authorized for sale by the federal government and their packs do not have a SAT code, so they do not pay the duties or taxes related to each pack.

Its star brand is Link, in its red, black and blue versions; in addition to Stallion, Rome, Malaga, Sovereign, Palenque, Indy, Maverick, Bahrain, Cali and Cherokee, that are purchased by a network spread over the Internet or through sales representatives in cars marked for coffee sales.

As an official seller, the company appears Granillo Distributorwhose website https://cigarroslink.com.mx/, has just a short form: “Lift your order, wait for your quote, make the payment of your advance, and wait for them at your home”, it can be read.

The market moves to Facebook, where several dozens of users and pages operate, dedicated to supplying stores and miscellaneous; the contact is visible to consumers with pages that show phone numbers, and invite the buyer to write to them on WhatsApp and inbox; the order is made at least one day in advance, the delivery is by parcel, and the promise: “quality Mexican tobacco”.

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FS

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