Chemical-laced spirits seized in series of raids

04 September, 2015

Retailers have been warned not to give in to the temptation of buying illicit booze after a series of raids led to seizures of counterfeit spirits laced with dangerous chemicals.

Police discovered bottles of fake vodka laced with chloroform in Essex, following on from a haul of 130,000 litres of fake vodka containing antifreeze that was seized by officers after a raid in Manchester last month.

Antifreeze is highly poisonous, while chloroform renders victims unconscious and has been used in murders, sexual assaults and robberies.

Officers patrolling the Notting Hill carnival in London last weekend seized 50 cases of beer and cider, 260 bottles of assorted spirits and Champagne, and six large containers of rum punch, all of which was counterfeit and much of which was “over-proof ” — containing a higher abv than the legal 50%.

After the raid that confiscated £1.7 million worth of fake vodka in Manchester, Sandra Smith, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “People buying the counterfeit vodka may have thought they were getting a bargain, but it has been distilled in unregulated conditions and may pose a serious health risk.”

Fourteen bottles of fake vodka were found to be on sale when officers searched a store in Colchester, selling at just £12 each.

The fake vodka was discovered in bottles labelled as Russian Empire, a brand that normally retails for around £27.

Inspector Sam Jarvis said: “We were contacted by a member of the public who was concerned that illicit vodka was on sale in the town.

“We are aware of fake alcohol being sold in other parts of the country, but we believe this is the first time this potentially dangerous mixture of vodka and other chemicals has been found in shops in Colchester.

“We would advise people to be wary about this sort of vodka and contact us if they know where it is being sold.

“Fake alcohol is a serious problem and people should remember that if the low price appears too good to be true, it may be an illegal product. We will be working with Trading Standards to investigate this matter.”

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