A six-week crackdown has resulted in more than 550,000 litres of beer, wine and spirits being seized, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced.

The overnight operation, intercepting vehicles carrying alcohol, was carried out at the Port of Dover. The operation resulted in the alcohol being seized, protecting a potential revenue loss of more than £1.3m.

Alongside these seizures, the 27 vehicles found to be carrying the alcohol were destroyed in order to disrupt the illicit supply of alcohol to the UK by organised criminal gangs.

HMRC officers worked with Border Force and the French customs authorities to identify vehicles carrying non-duty-paid alcohol from Calais to Dover.

Richard Las, HMRC’s deputy director, criminal investigation, said: “The operation has been a great success in disrupting the activity of these organised criminal gangs, clawing back more than £1.3m in evaded duty. The alcohol has been seized in order to protect legitimate traders and the public finances, and the vehicles have been destroyed to leave no room for the criminals to manoeuvre.

“We also made three arrests where investigations continue and anyone we catch can expect to feel the full force of our powers, including financial penalties and potentially a criminal record.

“We work closely with other partner agencies to help us identify, target and disrupt these organised criminal gangs smuggling alcohol into the country.”

Paul Morgan, Border Force regional director, said: “Border Force plays a key part in international efforts to tackle the global illicit trade in alcohol, working closely with HMRC and other agencies both in the UK and overseas to deploy intelligence-led anti-smuggling checks, supported by the use of high-tech equipment, to detect and disrupt the illegal smuggling of alcohol by criminal gangs. As part of these efforts vast amounts of illegal alcohol are successfully seized at the border every month.”