Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers dismantled the illegal bottling plant in an industrial unit on July 19. The vodka – worth about £45,000 in unpaid duty – was removed and sent for further testing, HMRC said.
Officers seized a 1,000 litre drum of suspected fake vodka and 80 cases of unmarked brown boxes, each containing 12 one-litre bottles of the alcohol, labelled No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue. Bottling machinery, bottle tops, counterfeit vodka labels and other labelling equipment were also seized.
‘Risking their life’
HMRC Fraud Investigation Service assistant director Angela McCalmon said: “Anyone drinking this fake vodka could be risking their life. People buying it may have thought they were getting a bargain, but instead they’ve bought alcohol that may put them in hospital or worse.
“Counterfeit alcohol puts people in danger and denies taxpayers of millions of pounds in unpaid duty – money which should be spent on vital public services.”
Investigations were ongoing, and no arrests have been made, so far.
McCalmon said: “We have alerted other law enforcement agencies, such as the police, local trading standards, and the Foods Standards Agency, to stop this product reaching shop shelves or into our communities.
‘Dangerous illegal trade’
“It is important that anyone with information about this dangerous illegal trade urgently reports it to our Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
The seized alcohol was sent for chemical analysis, but a similar investigation in Widnes, Cheshire, two years ago identified anti-freeze in vodka, HMRC said.
The 2015 raid identified 130,000 litres of toxic fake vodka in Widnes, worth £1.7M in unpaid duty. The seized vodka also carried the label No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue.
Suspected fake vodka raid in Aintree – at a glance
- Almost 2,000 litres of alcohol seized
- Sent for chemical analysis
- Worth £45,000 in unpaid duty