Customs raids target shops selling counterfeit alcohol

Scene of Boston explosion in July
Image caption Five men died in an explosion at an illegal distillery in Boston in July

Raids on shops suspected of selling counterfeit alcohol may be carried out across the UK after the success of a Revenue and Customs pilot scheme.

Prosecutions were brought after raids on premises in Peterborough, Newcastle, Boston, Lincs, and St Albans, Herts.

Some 16 premises, several of them international stores owned by foreign nationals, had alcohol or cigarette licences revoked or suspended.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is now considering a UK-wide crackdown.

It is evaluating the evidence gained on the pilot raids before deciding how to proceed, BBC Radio 5 live understands.

Distillery explosion

In some cases, fake vodka was found to contain isopropyl alcohol, a chemical found in cleaning fluids.

One shop owner in Boston claimed he was sold five cases of vodka on the doorstep. The product was also found to contain isopropyl alcohol.

In July, five men died in an explosion at an illegal distillery in Boston.

Police confirmed that the industrial unit was being used to produce bogus vodka.

Officers said the premises at the Broadfield Industrial Estate housed a "filtration plant that was being used for the production of illicit alcohol being distributed and sold as vodka".

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