Crime (and Punishment) in Andorra

We didn't lock our house in Andorra.  It was common (when we first moved there, before there was permanent traffic gridlock) for people to leave there cars double-parked (there was very little legal parking), unlocked and running while they went into the shops to 'pick up a few things'.  Andorra's small, after all and, because it's not part of the EU, still has border controls.  If someone stole your car, you just called the police who phoned both borders (France and Spain) and they caught the culprit on the way out.  (They had to leave….what would be the point of stealing a car and staying in Andorra?)  Up until a few years ago, smuggling (of cigarettes) was a legal and honorable profession in Andorra, right up there with doctor or politician.  (Andorra didn't allow lawyers in until the 1940's and there is no need for accountants….there's no income tax so businesses tend not to bother with that fussy double-entry accounting stuff.)  Back to the death-sticks:  Andorra's main crop is tobacco.  It's horrid tobacco and most of it's burned; the rest is used to make cheap knock-off brand cigarettes.  The reason it's grown so prolifically is that they get to import good cigarettes for re-sale in proportion to how much tobacco they grow (or so I've been told).  Since Andorra has miniscule tax on goods and cigarette tax is very, very high everywhere else, cigarettes are a hot item in Andorra.  Millions of people cross the borders every year to buy cigarettes (also gasoline, sugar, coffee, wine and spirits, furs, cosmetics, jewelry and electronics).  Because cigarettes are small and light, smuggling them out of Andorra for sale in Spain and France became big business.  We lived on a former smuggling run (it's illegal now, remember).  There were not a lot of houses on our mountain so there was not a lot of traffic – particularly at night.  If we heard a small parade of jeeps going up the mountain at 4:00am we pretty much could figure out what they were up to.  If they were followed by screaming police cars and a few shots, we knew for certain.  Smuggling had been legal in Andorra but both France and Spain frowned upon it so Andorra had to make a good effort of enforcing the new law. During the day, while walking the the high mountain passes with our Walking Group, it was common to come through a stand of trees in the middle of nowhere, and see two uniformed Mossos (Catalonian police) staring at us with machine-guns at the ready.  Before the police became involved there was another form of control.  The good smuggling routes over the mountain passes were, naturally, closely guarded by the families that used them.  Awhile back there was a body found in one of the high mountain lakes on a well-used smuggling pass.  It had been wrapped in a large carpet, weighted down with stones and tied tightly at both ends.  It was officially deemed a suicide.  Perhaps it was….it's always foolish and sometimes fatal to play against the rules…. 

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