Cuban Police Dismantle a Clandestine Tobacco Factory in Placetas

The Ministry of the Interior confirmed the dismantling of a clandestine tobacco factory in Placetas. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 June 2023 — The Facebook page “Fuerza del Pueblo,” an account linked to the Ministry of the Interior, details a police operation in the factory known as Chinchal de Tabaco, in the town of Báez, where agents seized several bags of material, molds and tools for the preparation of cigarettes. In addition, large amounts of cattle meat allegedly from the theft of cattle from local farmers was seized.

The post stated that the events took place in the town of Placetas, and one person was arrested, who will be accused of the crimes of illicit economic activity and illegal possession of cattle meat.

With the increasingly acute shortage, illegal trade often becomes the only place where a person can find several products that are not available in shops, but at exorbitant prices.

In 2021, this newspaper reported how the cigarettes produced illegally in a factory in the neighborhood of San Leopoldo in Havana gained ground among consumers when the product disappeared from state stores and cafeterias.

Then, the shortage of raw materials was combined with an increase in the price of cigarettes at the beginning of the Ordering Task,* which led many businesses to save the product in the hope of later selling at a better price. But in the clandestine plant, the rotating shifts did not stop, said the industry administrator.

The population’s complaints about the increase in crime and violence have put pressure on the authorities, who have deployed more members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution for routine surveillance. On one of these routes, the group noticed how in broad daylight beef was being transported to a house in Placetas.

The same Facebook page reported on Monday the seizure of 133 pounds of illegally sold beef. In addition, Maykel Vega was arrested, who, upon noticing the presence of the police, tried to get rid of the product by throwing it out of the window of his house.

This week in the same municipality of Villa Clara the Ministry of the Interior seized 100 bags of cement that were being transported in a tractor to Cabaiguán, Sancti Spíritus. Sources associated with the institution said that two people were arrested at the scene, who are under investigation to determine the origin of the construction material.

On Tuesday in Ranchuelo, Villa Clara, the police also seized 12 bags of coffee from the mountainous municipality of Manicaragua, in addition to two trucks loaded with food that were trying to cross to Cienfuegos, where the merchandise would be sold in the informal market.

*Translator’s note: The Ordering Task is a collection of measures that include eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency, which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and a broad range of other measures targeted to different elements of the Cuban economy. 

Translated by Regina Anavy


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