Originally Posted by denning
While on holiday in Cuba my brother picked up a box of Cohiba Esplendido's for $50. They have been verified authentic. Cost of box normally, over $1400. If one were to buy two boxes and sell one you could pay for your whole vacation.
Sorry -- not authentic. These sell on the Island for about $500 a box (this is the price at all Habanos S.A. authorized retail outlets). They sell elsewhere for more, although Habanos S.A. has been raising prices in Cuba over the past few years to match the most competitive international market prices (cigars used to be substantially less expensive in Cuba proper). It is possible to periodically find cigars for less than "Island" prices, but these are often via "gray market" (resellers), the margins below Island prices are minimal.
Fact: Cuban cigars are not cheep -- even in Cuba. Only "peso" cigars are. Price is often the easiest way to identify fakes. As is "short filler," a non-tripple cap, incorrect box codes, and a number of other tell-tale signs.
These "Cohibas" purchased on the Island may be made with Cuban tobacco -- but they are not Cohibas. And there is a world of difference between where the tobacco comes from (even within Cuba) and cigar blends, so a Cuban fake Cohiba will be nothing like an authentic one (just smoke a machine made Jose Piedras).
That said, if he's happy with the cigars, he got a box for $50 so enjoy. But enjoy them for what they are, not what they aren't. Additionally, it would be unethical to pass them off as authentic or to sell them to someone else for "authentic" Cohiba prices.
In case I've ruffled any feathers here, let me state at the outset that I will not argue about this one. Believe what you want, but to believe these are "authentic" is to pull the wool over your own eyes. Sadly, the "Cuban" cigars many Americans buy in Mexico are anything but.
Re: the inquiry in this post -- I'd leave discussion of vendors to non-US members and to private message.