May 13, 2018 – Guadalajara, Mexico

As reported in Mexico News Daily, Federal Prosecutors aided by the Criminal Investigation Agency raided a warehouse in the El Álamo industrial park based on a compliant filed by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT).

Upon entering the production facility housed inside the industrial park warehouse, investigators seized two large metal containers of a colorless liquid that smelled like alcohol, as well as a smaller container labeled as ethyl alcohol. Federal Agents used 6 taker trucks to remove the liquid to a secure facility while the investigation continues.

Also seized in the warehouse were labels for Tequila La Noria, S.A. de C.V. The agents estimated the haul of fake tequila at 199,000 liters, which makes it the largest single haul of fake tequila to date. In December of 2017, authorities seized 11,340 liters of fake tequila in Chile. In 2016 a similar number was confiscated and destroyed in Germany.

In March 2018, the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) issued a press release stating that they were fighting an uphill battle in ferreting out and identifying fake tequila due to government corruption. The CRT is tasked with certifying tequila, an indigenous Mexican distillation made from the blue agave plant (agave azul). The blue agave is only grown in the Mexican State of Jalisco and in designated municipalities of Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Michoacan and Guanajuato which are protected by Declaration for the Protection of the Appellation of Origin Tequila (DOT).

To be certified as Tequila, specified distillation procedures must be met before it is approved by CRT. As stated at their March 2018 press conference the CRT is faced daily with counterfeit tequila being produced in garages, warehouses and factories throughout Mexico and around the world.

Fake tequila seized: 199,000 liters, which makes it the largest single haul of fake tequila to date Click to Tweet

One only needs to look at the official export and consumption numbers compared to the amount of blue agave grown to realize that the fake tequila problem is massive. There are a limited number of acres where blue agave can be grown, with an average maturity cycle of 6-8 years, the exponential growth of tequila exportation and consumption in recent years is impossible given the number of blue agave plants in the ground.

A variety of methods is used to produce counterfeit tequila, including, mixing methanol or ethyl alcohol with flavorings, blending distillations of other agave varieties and mixing rum with tequila. The most dangerous of the counterfeit tequilas on the market are made with methanol which can lead to blindness and death.

The current administration of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) seems intent on pursuing the scourge of fake tequila. It remains to be seen if their public accusations of political corruption will aid their campaign or be the end of it.

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