Unless you frequent the Corozal Free Zone, you probably haven't heard of Modern Cigarettes. But, apparently the Chinese Brand is very popular with Mexicans, and now one company called Benque Duty and Tax Free wants to make it similarly popular west of the border in Guatemala.
But that's become the subject of a bitter commercial dispute - one that's become so heated even the police got involved. The subject of dispute is a recent shipment of one thousand of what are called master packs of Modern Cigarettes. It's a lot of cigarettes, one full 40 foot container imported into Belize from Hong Kong.
On Friday the container was headed to the Benque Viejo Free Zone when, acting on information, police stopped it at Roaring Creek. Now, Customs is the department which usually deals with containers, not police. But police got info that the container was suspect, and so they stopped and searched it.
That got Customs involved again, and tomorrow they have invited police to search the container along with them.
If it all sounds a little clueless, it kinda is - but that's because - according to information we dug up - the real issue is that a powerful, well connected company which operates out of the Free Zone is the agent for Modern Cigarettes. And now, a new company using the cover of the Benque Free Zone - which doesn't really exist on a retail level - is trying to muscle it's way into the market.
How the police got involved basically to run interference is still unclear, but we should have more tomorrow.