March 2024

On March 11, Miami Dade police apprehended Jorge Gomero, aged 52, residing at 10 SW 45th Ave. in Miami, on numerous felony charges, including those related to stolen merchandise and counterfeit cigar bands.

The authorities had been conducting an investigation into Gomero and his establishment, El Baratón, a retail outlet suspected of serving as a hub for illicit goods since January. The investigation was sparked by the arrest of an individual for theft, who confessed to selling the stolen items to Gomero. Undercover operations revealed a pattern of individuals entering El Baratón with bags full of goods and leaving empty-handed, allegedly having sold stolen items to Gomero and his spouse.

Yesterday, a search warrant was executed at El Baratón, yielding $28,281.39 worth of merchandise, including items previously sold to Gomero in undercover transactions, along with 4,499 empty boxes purportedly for counterfeit cigars, estimated to have a value of $1,124,750, in addition to numerous labels, ribbons, and certificates.

According to a police report, the seized packaging bore brands such as “ROMEO AND JULIETTA,” “H UPMAN,” “TRINIDAD,” “MONTECRISTO,” “COHIBA,” “CAO,” “BOLIVAR,” “EL REY DEL MUNDO,” “LA GLORIA CUBANA,” “MACANUDO,” “PUNCH,” “PARTAGAS,” and “SANCHO PANZA.” The report noted that the separation of bands and boxes was consistent with the manufacturing of counterfeit cigar packaging.

Although the images provided did not include packaging for non-Cuban brands like CAO and Macanudo, they did display labels for Cuban brands including Bolívar, Cohiba, Cohiba BHK, Cuaba, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, Partagás, Quai d’Orsay, Romeo y Julieta, San Cristóbal de La Habana, and Trinidad.

Moreover, secondary bands for Habanos S.A.’s flagship Gran Reserva series, as well as for other series like Añejados, Edición Limitada, and La Casa del Habano, were discovered. While the Cohiba BHK boxes were evidently counterfeit, some other boxes appeared, from a distance, to closely resemble authentic ones.

No cigars were found at El Baratón. According to a police spokesperson, investigators reached out to various cigar companies—specifically mentioning Altadis U.S.A.—to verify the legitimacy of the bands. Upon confirming them as counterfeit, the police estimated the retail value of the products these bands would have adorned, resulting in the $1,124,750 valuation.

Gomero’s bond has been set at $22,500.

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