Spanish authorities seize €3.5m worth of fake rum

The Spanish Civil Guard has seized over 225,000 bottles of fake rum worth €3.5 million and arrested 24 people believed to be part of an international counterfeiting ring.

In a press release, the Civil Guard announced that it had dismantled an international counterfeiting operation dedicated to importing fake rum, labelled under three different brands, into Spain.

Authorities said the fakers had achieved such “a level of perfection” that it had allowed them to evade tax controls.

The investigation began in February 2019 when the police found a consignment of rum bottles in the province of Cádiz that appeared to be fake. After analyzing the bottles, their suspicions were confirmed. They were then able to trace the bottles back to the Netherlands, from where they were shipped to different Spanish bonded warehouses.

Tracing their journey back further, authorities discovered that the spirits were made in the Dominican Republic, bottled in Honduras and completed with counterfeit labels produced in China. The goods were then sent to Spain via tax warehouses in the Netherlands and distributed in Córdoba, Badajoz, Valencia, Malaga, Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Seville, Navarra, Bilbao and Huelva.

In collaboration with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), investigators seized 147,000 counterfeit bottles of rum in a warehouse in the Netherlands, which were destined for Spain. This find resulted in Honduran authorities intercepting two containers loaded with fake rum with an estimated value of €500,000.

In total, law enforcement officers have investigated 50 Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch companies as part of the operation.

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