An illegal alcohol factory, producing potentially toxic vodka, has been found in an industrial unit in Aintree, Liverpool.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) discovered the unit on Wednesday July 19 and is warning the public and local retailers to beware of the potentially dangerous fake vodka, which was labelled as No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue.
The illicit bottling plant was dismantled and the alcohol, worth an estimated £45,000 in unpaid duty, was removed for further tests.
During the operation HMRC officers seized:
• one 1,000 litre drum containing suspected counterfeit alcohol which is undergoing chemical tests;
• counterfeit vodka labels for No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue;
• bottling machinery, bottle tops and other labelling paraphernalia;
• 80 cases in unmarked brown boxes, each case contained 12 one-litre bottles of No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue; and
• a total of 1,965 litres of suspect alcohol was seized of which 965 litres was in finished labelled bottles.
There have been no arrests so far and investigations are ongoing.
HMRC is awaiting chemical analysis but similar seizures in the North West in 2015 were found to contain anti-freeze.
Angela McCalmon, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Anyone drinking this fake vodka could be risking their life. People buying it may have thought they were getting a bargain, 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.
“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. It is important that anyone with information about this dangerous illegal trade urgently reports it to our hotline on 0800 788887.”