£10m of fake booze seized in mass crackdown17th February, 2014 by Amy Hopkins
Over £10 million worth of fake spirits has been seized as part of a large-scale operation to crackdown on counterfeit food and drink.
Police agency networks Interpol and Europol recently announced that nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks have been seized in a coordinated operation across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe.
Operation Opson saw the some 96 people arrested or detained, while investigations are continuing in many countries.
Conducted throughout December 2013 and January 2014, the operation involved police, customs, national food regulatory bodies and partners from the private sector, with checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and private homes.
Over 17,350 bottles of spirits were seized during this period, amounting to over £10million (US$ 17,280,964).
In particular, the agencies revealed that Royal Thai Police raided a warehouse in Bangkok and recovered more than 270 bottles of fake whiskey, as well as forged stickers, labels and packaging.
“Most people would be surprised at the everyday foods and drink which are being counterfeited, and the volume of seizures shows that this is a serious global problem,” said Michael Ellis, head of Interpol’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit, which coordinated activities between the world police body’s participating countries across the globe.
“Interpol is committed to turning back this threat to public health and safety by organised criminal networks which are making millions in profits which can then be channelled into other illicit activity such as human and drug trafficking.”
While Russia was not targeted by Operation Opson, it was recently revealed that the country’s counterfeit whisky market could be worth £230million.
The counterfeit alcohol industry has continued to have a pervasive presence in the drinks industry in recent years, prompting The Spirits Business to list eight telltale signs of counterfeit spirits.