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Smugglers foiled in bid to sell Christmas booze

Port of Dover
Port of Dover

by Graham Tutthill

Smugglers attempting to sell cheap booze in the lead-up to Christmas have had their plans thwarted by UK Border Agency officers at Dover.

In the last week of November alone, more than 300,000 litres of beer, cider, wine and spirits, worth more than £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.

Officials say it is likely it would have been sold on the black market, resulting in buyers also avoiding taxes.

The UK Border Agency estimates that more than £900,000 in revenue would have been lost to the Treasury had the consignments not been stopped.

In the last week of November, 14,000 litres of vodka, 3,000 litres of cider, 13,500 litres of spirits and 98,000 litres of beer were found on lorries arriving at Dover.

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."

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