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137,000 litres of alcohol seized in UK during Europe-wide crackdown

Press Release   •   Sep 24, 2014 15:07 BST

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has seized illicit alcohol and disrupted alcohol-related criminal gangs as part of a Europe-wide initiative tackling international organised crime.

A Europol intelligence-led operation – spearheaded in the UK by HMRC - Operation Archimedes used intense activity to disrupt alcohol smuggling across northern European countries and into the UK, with support from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy.

HMRC, working together with Border Force, Trading Standards and Kent Police, seized 137,124 litres of illegal alcohol during the operation, which took place between Monday 15 September and Thursday 19 September 2014.

This included:

·  132,940 litres of beer seized (almost a quarter of a million pints)

·  260 litres of spirits seized (more than 300 bottles of spirits)

·  3,924 litres of wine seized (more than 4,000 bottles of wine)

·  7vehicles seized

John Pointing, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:

“Alcohol smuggling costs the UK economy around £1 billion a year in lost revenue. HMRC is committed to tackling alcohol crime and this month’s action has had an outstanding impact in bringing law enforcement agencies across the UK and Europe together to disrupt one of the most serious organised criminal threats.

“We encourage anyone with information regarding alcohol smuggling and fraud to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”


More than 250 HMRC officers, as well as officers from partner agencies in the UK and across Europe, took part in the operation targeting alcohol smuggling at UK ports (Dover, Tilbury, Purfleet) and inland at 23 locations including alcohol retail units, haulier truck stops, industrial units and warehouses across England.

Colleagues in The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy took similar action at their borders, lorry parks and storehouses where they suspected the movement of illicit alcohol, and “ghost” bonded warehouses.

Notes to Editors

1.  Europol’s news release is available online:

2.  EMPACT – European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats – was established by the European Commission as a structured multi-disciplinary platform for Member States, European Union (EU) institutions and agencies to work together to tackle the most important serious and organised criminal threats to the EU.

3.  Follow HMRC’s press office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

4.  HMRC’s flickr channel

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.