Bottling line for fake vodka

An illegal alcohol factory capable of producing up to 150 bottles of fake vodka every hour has been dismantled by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in Staffordshire.

HMRC searched a commercial premises near Lichfield on February 1 and discovered the property was filled with counterfeit vodka and production machinery.

It’s estimated the factory was capable of evading £2.5m of excise duty every year.

Officers recovered hundreds of bottles of suspected counterfeit Krackoff vodka along with tanks that could hold 7,000 litres of liquid.

Judith Rockett, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit alcohol market which costs the UK around £1bn per year.

“This is theft from the taxpayer. This crime hurts legitimate businesses and the people that buy the often-dangerous products. Anyone with information about any type of tax fraud can contact HMRC online.”

HMRC dismantled and removed the equipment and also seized:

  • 241 full five litre containers of ethanol;
  • 423 full 70cl bottles of Krackoff Triple Distilled Vodka;
  • 9,030 empty 70cl bottles;
  • 112 boxes of bottle tops;
  • 9 Intermediate 1,000 litre Bulk Container’s (IBCs) three of which contained ethanol; and
  • 1,284 empty five litre containers of ethanol.

Investigations are continuing and no arrests have been made at this stage. HMRC is also working with trading standards.

Victoria Wilson, cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Fake and illegal alcohol can be extremely harmful to people’s health and can cause lifelong disabilities. It’s something that our trading standards service take very seriously and work hard with partner agencies to tackle.

“Our officers make regular visits to retailers and off licenses to make sure these dangerous items are not on sale. Anyone with concerns or with information on the sale of counterfeit alcohol should contact our confidential Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785 330356.”