Smugglers capitalize on the soccer craze

The region’s World Cup craze has some smugglers capitalizing off the opportunity to profit from selling unauthorized soccer merchandise. Fuerza Pública officers discovered a shipment of fraudulent Costa Rica national team jerseys at the Panamá border Wednesday.

Around $4,000 worth of shirts were concealed under seats on a privately-owned Nicaraguan bus, according to a police press release. Authorities found the goods aboard the bus at a checkpoint stop in Guaycará, Golfito, as it was headed north on the Inter-American Highway towards the Central Valley.

Border Police Chief Allan Obando said the bus owner is a Nicaraguan woman with Costa Rican residency, identified by the last names Herrera Aráuz. He said the passengers acted very suspicious at the checkpoint so border officials decided to conduct a thorough search through the vehicle.

They found packages containing 223 imitation jerseys. Ms. Herrera Aráuz was unable to provide receipts to prove she paid necessary taxes on the imported goods.

This is the second time authorities have confiscated materials related to soccer’s largest international tournament, currently happening in Brazil. In May, Fuerza Pública officers grabbed a substantial shipment of World Cup-themed postcards coming from Panamá that were worth about $9,000 total.

Police officer examines some of the jerseys.

Police officer examines some of the jerseys.

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