Industry Insights

Illicit Whites in Latin America

Tobacco Industry

What are Illicit Whites or Cheap Whites?

Illicit whites are cigarettes that are legally produced in one country, often under their own unique brand name, for the sole purpose of being smuggled into other countries for illicit sale. Criminals typically take advantage of vulnerabilities in free-trade zones (FTZs) to traffic these products.

What are the risks associated with Illicit Whites?

“Cheap whites” not only cause massive tax revenue losses for governments, but they also pose a security risk, and usually infringe the local regulations of destination countries.
The global flow of illicit whites has become an increasingly pressing issue in the fight against illicit trade. This is because they are highly attractive for smugglers, who can generally avoid the risks of prosecution for intellectual property rights infringements that counterfeiters have to contend with.

ApiraSol’s International Monitoring of Illicit Whites

ApiraSol regularly maps the international illicit trade of cheap whites. We pay special attention to Central America and how tobacco trade is connected to other continents, suppliers and importers.
Recent studies have demonstrated the international nature of the illicit whites trade, monitoring the role of producers in India, China and Vietnam, as well as traders in the Middle East and Paraguay.

In less than a decade, across the world, large-scale smuggling of so-called “illicit whites” has increased exponentially.

Elizabeth Allen (Former head of UK Customs), “The Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and How to Tackle It” (June 2013)

Origin countries of Illicit Whites imported to Central America

Study by ApiraSol

ApiraSol maps and investigates illicit trade, collaborating with brand owners and the public sector.

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