From Law Enforcement to Premium Cigars: The Story of The Traficante Cigar Company

From Law Enforcement to Premium Cigars: The Story of The Traficante Cigar Company

Nestled in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama, also known as “Tragic City,” lies The Traficante Cigar Company, a unique brand with an extraordinary origin story. Mike Poe, the founder and owner, shared with me his journey, which is unlike any other in the cigar industry. Just by the brand name, thoughts about hit shows like Narcos and Sicario might come to mind—and you wouldn’t be wrong to think that.

A Journey Born Out of Necessity

Unlike many who entered the cigar business by passion or choice, Mike’s involvement was driven by necessity. He dedicated 25 years to law enforcement, specializing in Narcotics and SWAT. In 2015, during a long-term narcotics investigation, Mike founded The Traficante Cigar Company as a cover. Little did he know, this “cover” would transform into a successful business beyond his law enforcement career.

What began as a means to an end quickly grew into a thriving enterprise, even after his retirement. He has always referred to his success as “accidental,” but it has been anything but that—it’s a testament to the power of passion and resilience.

The Past: From Covert Operations to Cultivating a Brand

In 2015, Mike fell in love with the cigar culture, but his commitment to undercover work meant keeping a low profile. From 2015 to 2017, The Traficante Cigar Company had virtually no online presence. His need to maintain a covert identity kept the brand under wraps. However, upon retiring in 2017, after years of toll on his body and mental health, he was able to invest completely in Traficante Cigar Company.

This pivotal move allowed the brand to expand its reach with dedication and hard work, embracing the opportunity to share their passion for cigars with the world.

The Future: Personal Stories in Every Blend

Every blend they offer at The Traficante Cigar Company carries a piece of Mike’s personal journey. From the music he has loved to the experiences he’s endured, each cigar tells a story. The artwork, crafted in-house, and blend names are deeply meaningful, reflecting his life’s chapters and the rich culture of cigars.

They remain committed to delivering unique, unrivaled blends to their supporters. Their dedication to quality is unwavering, and as they continue to grow, they aim to distribute the brand worldwide, sharing their story and passion with cigar enthusiasts everywhere.

Elevating the Art of Cigar Crafting

At Traficante Cigar Company, they pride themselves on crafting premium, hand-rolled cigars in small, meticulously curated batches. Their commitment to quality means selecting the finest tobacco from the most fertile regions of Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. This careful selection process allows their master blender, expert growers, and skilled hand rollers to create cigars of unparalleled quality and flavor. This isn’t just cigar making; it’s the Traficante Cigar experience.

A Boutique Revolution

If you prefer mass-produced cigars, Traficante might not be for you. They are a true boutique cigar company, dedicated to a revolution against mediocrity. Unlike some so-called “boutique” brands that churn out thousands of cigars daily, their maximum weekly production is fewer than 1,000 cigars. This limited production ensures exceptional quality and exclusivity but also means their stock can run low, and some blends may never be reproduced once sold out. When you join the Traficante family (La Familia), you’re embracing a unique and rare smoking experience.

The Art of Barrel Aging

Their commitment to excellence extends to their meticulous aging process. After the initial fermentation, their tobacco undergoes a secondary aging process to further release ammonia, enhancing its flavor and aroma. The wrapper tobacco is packed in 120-pound bales and aged for a minimum of two years in a climate-controlled warehouse to maintain optimal moisture and humidity.

Once fermented, the filler tobacco is returned to the floor where part of the mid stem is removed by hand. The filler is then packed into 130-pound bales called tercios, made from royal palm bark. This traditional Cuban method allows for a slow, continuous aging process, perfect for achieving the best taste, aroma, and burning quality.

After spending up to two years in tercios, the filler tobacco is then transferred to Dominican rum barrels for additional aging and flavor development. This unique method imparts subtle, nuanced flavors, creating a cigar that is truly exceptional.

Suffused Cigars

At Traficante Cigar Company, they are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of traditional cigar craftsmanship. Their proprietary suffusion process stands as a testament to this commitment, setting them apart in the cigar industry. Unlike typical infusion methods that can overwhelm and mask the natural flavors of tobacco, their suffusion process delicately enhances the smoking experience by introducing subtle flavors and scents, allowing the rich tobacco essence to shine through.

The suffusion process is a labor of love that requires time, patience, and perfect humidity—elements that are often overlooked and deemed cost-prohibitive by mass-producing manufacturers. At Traficante, they refuse to rush their processes. They believe in the art of cigar making, where each step is carefully monitored and executed to ensure the highest quality product.

By evading the practices of mass production, they preserve the integrity of their cigars. Every batch is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that each cigar offers a unique and memorable smoking experience. The suffusion process not only respects the natural flavors of the tobacco but also elevates them, creating a harmonious blend of taste and aroma that is unparalleled.

Cigar Selection

They have a large selection of cigars to choose from on their website,, from traditional to suffused. You can also find a list of retailers that carry them if you would like to buy them at a brick-and-mortar shop.

Traficante’s Roots and Expansion

By embracing a journey that started out of necessity and evolved into a passion, The Traficante Cigar Company stands as a beacon of resilience, quality, and personal storytelling in the cigar industry. Join them in celebrating their past, present, and exciting future.

While the story began in Birmingham, Alabama, their roots remain firmly planted there. Their primary distribution office will always be in Birmingham, a testament to their origins. The factories are located in Mazatlán, Mexico, and Santiago, Dominican Republic, ensuring the highest quality in every cigar they produce.

Their home lounge, located at 3401 5th Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama 35222 (Bodega on 5th), showcases many of their blends and hand-painted boxes. They invite you to visit and experience the brand firsthand. If you’re ever in the Birmingham area, Mike personally welcomes you to reach out and meet him there.

Instagram: @traficantecigar_com
Email: [email protected]

John Cardenas

I’m John Cardenas, also known as Johnny Havana in the cigar industry. What I love about being involved with Cigar Public is that I have the opportunity to learn and share the stories of those in the cigar industry. I’ve formed lifelong relationships over a cigar and conversations. I’m committed to providing honest reviews of cigars and sharing my experiences with you.