Anti-smuggling bill almost ready

These are some of the 10,000 cigarettes confiscated Wednesday in a multi-agency sweep of five retail outlets in the center of San José.

These are some of the 10,000 cigarettes confiscated Wednesday in
a multi-agency sweep of five retail outlets in the center of San José.

The Ministerio de Hacienda said it soon will present to the legislature a bill to increase prison terms for smuggling and to reduce the threshold at which prison terms are levied.

Now a smuggler has to be caught with goods worth $50,000 or more to be brought into criminal court. The ministry seeks to reduce that amount to $10,000 and to up the maximum prison term from three to 10 years.

There also are plans for wording that will lump individual amounts of smuggled goods into one lot to reach the threshold.

Also planned are new penalties for those involved in an organized smuggling gang or illegal imports of goods that put human health at risk, jeopardize the health of animals, endanger national security or threaten the environment.

A typical lot of smuggled goods are medicines from Nicaragua. These would fall under the new category of a human health risk

The Dirección General de Aduanas, the customs agency, is within the Hacienda ministry.

A committee from the public and private sectors has been working on the proposal that will be presented to lawmakers.

Illegal drugs aside, smuggled goods from Panamá are usually cigarettes, alcohol or manufactured products. Nicaragua is a source of medicines, cows and horses and animal products like cheese.

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