Smugglers test police forces at the borders and also in the cities

Security officials are cracking down on smuggled merchandise.

Monday officers in the Unidad de Intervención Policial  and the Dirección de Inteligencia Policial  conducted inspections atpulperias and other small stores in the San José downtown. They were after untaxed cigarettes, and they found them.

In most cases, the various outlets did not have permission to sell cigarettes, and police suspect the packages themselves with the brand name Silver Elephant were smuggled into the country. Silver Elephant is a Chinese product made by the China Tobacco Hunan Industrial Co., Ltd. in Changsha,  The cigarettes are popular elsewhere in Latin America.

Of course, police officers continue to find alcohol being smuggled from Panamá in an effort to beat the Costa Rican tax. Police confiscated three shipments of liquor over the weekend in Paso Canoas. Some 38 boxes were confiscated in Río Claro de Guaycará and even more from a vehicle that was stopped in front of the police station in La Unión de Limoncito. So the total confiscations were five.

As with illegal drugs there is no estimate on how many untaxed bottles get through. Police conducted raids of some bars and restaurants to find untaxed bottles in use in the Central Valley last week.

Saturday officers of the Policía de Fronteras said they saw two men across the border in Panamá loading boxes in a vehicle.  When the men arrived with their car in Costa Rica, the officers made an inspection and said they found 4.5 million colons or about $9,000 worth of postcards celebrating the World Cup of soccer. The cargo was confiscated because tax had not been paid, officers said.

Panamá is a major source of smuggled items because of the supply there of goods that cost less than in Costa Rica. Police even stopped and confiscated a load of avocados, also in Paso Canoas, Sunday.

Not only were the 1,700 avocados brought in without paying custom duty, they did not undergo the required health inspection for possible harmful insects and diseases, police said..

Panamå also was the source of a tanker containing smuggled gasoline last month.

The Ministerio de Hacienda has a police unit that specifically searches for untaxed goods.

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