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More than 1.5m litres of counterfeit wine and spirits seized by police amid crackdown

A colossal 1.7m litres of counterfeit booze including wine, beer, vodka and other alcoholic beverages have been seized by authorities in recent months as part of a crackdown on food and drink fraud across Europe. 

Counterfeit booze seized
Counterfeit alcohol bottles for illustrative purposes only.

According to Europol, roughly 1.7m litres of booze has been seized by authorities in the period between December 2020 and June 2021, with wine and vodka by far the most commonly confiscated alcohol.

In a release Wednesday, Europol revealed that it had disrupted the criminal activities of some 42 criminal gangs over the the same time period, with a total of 15,451 tonnes of counterfeit goods being seized at an estimated value of €53.8 million.

Per a report from EuroNews, 14 members of a criminal organisation in Spain were arrested after it was discovered that they had used dyes to change the hue and apparent quality of the wines they were pushing.

A separate investigation saw five people arrested at a home in Italy, reportedly over the manufacture of counterfeit wine, though the wine itself wasn’t immediately identified.

Spanish authorities seized 47,660 litres of whiskies, while foodstuffs including fake honey and illegal horse meat have also been confiscated.

“Removing such an enormous quantity of illegal and often dangerous products from the market is a concrete example of how international police cooperation is making the world a safer place,” said Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General.

“Food crime may not always seem like a top policing priority but operations like OPSON X demonstrate the massive profits these products generate, which can then fund other organized crime activities.

Earlier this year, we reported that the UK was being “flooded” with fake bottles of YellowTail wines. You can read the full story here.

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