Glasgow, Scotland – December 23, 2021
The Fraud Investigation Service of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in conjunction with Police Scotland dismantled an active counterfeit vodka operation. The raid was conducted at an Industrial Estate in Greencok, Inverclyde where over 400 liters of counterfeit vodka was seized.
The distillery operation discovered by HMRC, and Police included distilling equipment and 12,000 liters of industrial alcohol used in the production of the counterfeit alcohol. Although the authorities did not specify the industrial alcohol that was found and seized, it is most often methanol. It is a deadly form of alcohol used in as a caustic cleaning solvent, and in automotive fluids.
Methanol is a toxic substance. Unfortunately, it is a cheap an inexpensive substitute for alcohol bootleggers. The active alcohol component of controlled distillation is ethanol which is deemed safe for human consumption.
Along with the stills, over 400 liters of bottled bootleg vodka and 12000 liters of industrial alcohol in several bulk containers. The raising authorities uncovered pallets of counterfeit bottles waiting to be filled with the fake vodka along with labels and caps. The fake vodka was destined to hit the street ad be sold as a premium vodka from Scotland. This fake vodka containing industrial alcohol when ingested can lead to immediate health issues including death depending on the concentration and amount consumed.
Authorities did not able to make any arrests during the raid and refused further comment because of the ongoing nature of the investigation.
They were happy to remove this deadly toxic alcohol in counterfeit bottles from the reach of consumers. In a comment published by the BBC Joe Hendry Assistant Director of Fraud Investigations for HMRC was quoted as saying, “Drinking counterfeit alcohol can be a huge risk to health and even cause death. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit alcohol market that costs the UK around £1bn per year.” He continued, “This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”
Due to the sensitive nature of the continuing investigation into this operation HMRC and Scotland Police did not offer collaboration that this was part of a larger operation. In the July 2021 Europol announced that over 1.7 million liters of fake booze, and counterfeit alcohol brands were seized from December 2020 through June 2021.
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