‘Smuggled’ wine and vodka seized from city shops

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Hundreds of bottles of suspected smuggled wine and vodka were seized before Christmas from several city off-licences.

On December 18, officers from Milton Keynes Council’s Regulatory Unit, together with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, carried out joint visits to shops in the Bletchley area.

As a result about 100 litres of vodka and some 300 bottles of wine were seized, with a ‘street value’ of around £3,000.

It was suspected that the duty had not been paid on the goods and also that counterfeit UK Duty Paid stamps had been put on some of the spirits. As they would have not gone through the normal ‘checks and balances’, there is also a chance that some of the alcohol could be fake, and even dangerous.

Bob Gaiger, HMRC (Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire) spokesman said: “HMRC works with other law enforcement agencies to target anyone we suspect is selling smuggled alcohol.

“We relentlessly pursue any individuals believed to be involved in this type of criminal activity. It is not a victimless crime and undermines the efforts of legitimate traders.”

Karen Ford, Head of the Regulatory Unit at Milton Keynes Council, said: “I am very pleased with the result of these visits. Off-licences should make sure that the alcohol that they sell has come from genuine sources.

“It might seem like a cheap deal to customers, but the reality is that it gives an unfair advantage over those shopkeepers who stick to the law, and only buy in legitimate goods, where the duty has been paid.”