Customs crackdown on counterfeit alcohol


2 August 2011

by Stephen Gregory

Increased efforts are being made to eliminate the production of counterfeit alcohol, after a fatal explosion in Boston, Lincolnshire.

Revenue and customs are to carry out a series of raids across the country to seize illegally made liquor. Arrests have already been made in pilot raids on premises in Peterborough, Newcastle and St Albans as well as in Boston. 16 international stores have had their alcohol and cigarette licences suspended or revoked.

HMRC says the raids will target outlets serving and run by non-UK nationals and that the information gleaned from the pilot raids will shape their plan.

In July five Lithuanians died in an explosion which took place at an illegal vodka distillery, and another man was left critically ill with severe burns. Police said that the site at Broadfield Industrial Estate contained a “filtration plant that was being used for the production of illicit alcohol being distributed and sold as vodka”.

Police in that region are stepping up their efforts to stamp out the illegal activity. Chief Inspector Lee Pache said that intelligence was being sought regarding the production of illegal alcohol in order to prevent any further incidents.

He said: “We were part of an operation back in March to deal with counterfeit alcohol in Boston.

“We were looking for where the alcohol was being produced, where it was coming from and where it was being sold.

“Clearly there was an issue in Boston and clearly we were aware of it.

“We are appealing for anyone who has any information to contact us. We will react.”

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