More than 82.8 million confiscated cigarettes are being destroyed in the northwestern port city of Mazatlan, marking the largest seizure of this type of tobacco product in Mexico's history, officials said.
The cigarettes were seized by customs agents in Mazatlan, which is in Sinaloa state, the customs service said.
"The cigarettes, which arrived in eight containers, did not comply with applicable non-tariff regulations and restrictions, and they could not be transferred to the Goods Disposal and Administration Service because they were foreign trade merchandise, so they had to be destroyed," the customs service said in a statement.
Destruction of the cigarettes began on July 23 and is scheduled to end on Aug. 1, with marines, Attorney General's Office personnel and health officials assisting in the process.
The seizure was the biggest in Mexico's history and "places us among the top four countries in the world in the current (fiscal) year," the customs service said, citing tobacco industry experts.
The seizure made in Mazatlan is "the biggest blow against smuggling of this product, and it definitely helps prevent health threats to Mexicans," Health Secretary Salomon Chertorivski said in a press conference in Mexico City.
The containers carrying the cigarettes, which originated "basically, in China and India," were found and identified over the past two months, Federal Commission against Health Threats chairman Mikel Arriola said during the same press conference.
The commission seized 40 million cigarettes in 2010 and 33 million cigarettes last year, Arriola said.
A total of 70 million cigarettes had been seized in the past two months, with the nearly 83 million cigarettes found in Mazatlan more than doubling that total, Arriola said.
The seizure benefits the Treasury, legitimate businesses and the health of consumers since "it is not known who makes (the contraband cigarettes), or where they are made, or the substances used" to manufacture them, Arriola said. EFE