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Smugglers trying to sell cheap booze in the lead up to Christmas have had their plans foiled by officers from the UK Border Agency.
In the last week of November alone, over 300,000 litres of beer, cider, wine and spirits, worth over £1million, were seized at ports across the south of England. The alcohol was detained because it is believed the traders involved were attempting to avoid paying excise duty and VAT.
Had the alcohol not been confiscated, it is likely it would have been sold on the black market, resulting in buyers also avoiding taxes.
The UK Border Agency estimates that over £900,000 in revenue would have been lost to HM Treasury had the consignments not been stopped.
In the last week of November, the following loads were detained at the border:
Nearly 13,000 litres of Spanish wine from a lorry at Poole on 24/11. The load was described as car parts;
Thousands of litres of wine, beer, spirits and cider from lorries at Dover.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) criminal investigators are already carrying out enquiries after 21,500 litres of whisky were found in a lorry at Portsmouth Ferry Port on 25 November. The amount of revenue evaded in this case alone is estimated at £118,000. Investigations are ongoing.
Carole Upshall, UK Border Agency Regional Director for ports across the south of England, said:
“This level of alcohol seizures leads us to believe that criminals are trying to exploit the pressure on household finances by offering cheap booze in the lead up to Christmas.
“It is perfectly legitimate to shop in Europe and bring back alcohol for yourself but anyone who smuggles alcohol is effectively stealing from the public purse and from law-abiding taxpayers.
“The money from this kind of smuggling is often recycled into other forms of organised crime.
“Our officers are on constant alert to keep drugs, weapons and other contraband out of the country. Anyone
with information that may be helpful to the UK Border Agency, should phone our hotline on 0800 59 5000.”