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Polish Workers Caught up in North London Booze Fraud


North London Gang members, who used high-tech equipment to engineer a £16 million booze fraud producing 24 fake bottles of vodka a minute, have been jailed.
Customs officers said the gang set up in a rat infested warehouse in Hackney and made more than 1.3million litres of vodka using ethanol imported from Eastern Europe.
Investigations by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found Polish workers were brought to the UK solely to work in the warehouses and were housed in “filthy” on-site accommodation which enabled the gang to run a 24/7 operation.
The gang used “sophisticated equipment” to produce more than 9.5 tonnes of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco, at a rate of 100 pouches per minute, valued at £800,000 in duty.
A total of six gang members have been jailed for the offence of trying to avoid £16million in duty and VAT. Officers at HMRC said the men spent the money on powerful cars, luxury Docklands apartments and lavish holidays in exclusive hotels, including a £4,000 three-day jaunt to Dubai.
Investigators worked closely with European law enforcement agencies from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Poland and Cyprus to trace the leaders of the operation.
The tobacco was stored in Holland before coming to the UK while further evidence suggested counterfeit packaging for the products came from Cyprus.

A statement from HMRC said: “The packaging of both the vodka and tobacco was so convincing that the public would have been duped into thinking they were buying the real thing.”
Author: Chris Slay

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