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Six arrested after €100m wine fraud ring uncovered

Six people have been arrested in Spain for adulterating wine as part of an organised international operation involving over 60 companies.

Image: Delegación del Gobierno de España

The arrests were made in Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid in mid-July after evidence was found than an international network was producing and marketing adulterated grape must, wine and spirits.

According to reports in Spanish media outlets CMM Media and ABC, the operation, code-named Isolu, had begun in September 2018 and was a collaboration between customs officials in Castilla-La Mancha and police from Ciudad Real.

The group has been charged with using isoglucose, or corn syrup, and not grape must, to make wine, and grain- instead of grape-derived spirit to make brandy.

Two people, believed to be the ring-leaders, have been arrested along with four collaborators. A further 27 people are also under investigation for wrongdoings including criminal organisation, counterfeiting, fraud and money laundering.

Authorities believe the ring’s criminal operation was worth almost €100 million.

The network was allegedly formed of over 60 enterprises operating out of Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, France, Moldova and Russia. According to the authorities, isoglucose used in the wine fraud was transported from production plants in the Netherlands and Belgium to Spain, where it was fermented and mixed with wine products to reduce production costs.

Spirits, meanwhile, were obtained from the Netherlands and subsequently diluted and adulterated.

After searches of 11 addresses connected with the operation, police found fraudulent documents, nine luxury cars, bank notes and four illegal firearms.

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