UK: Illegal vodka gang jailed
Vodka gang spent proceeds on lavish lifestyles
Members of a gang who illegally distilled more than 1m litres of vodka and spent the proceeds on luxury apartments and cars have been jailed in the UK for a total of 56 years.
A London court jailed six members of the gang on Monday (12 July) after finding them guilty of operating an illegal vodka ring that cheated the Government out of nearly GBP16m (US$24.3m) in duty and value added tax.
Polish workers produced the vodka in rat-infested warehouses for the gangleaders, who then spent the proceeds on lavish lifestyles, including a GBP16,000 three-day trip to Dubai. The gang also produced illegal tobacco.
"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," said HM Revenue & Customs.
It took a Europe-wide operation to bring the gang's leaders to justice. It is believed that they imported ethanol from Eastern Europe and counterfeit packaging from Cyprus.
All six gang members on trial were charged with conspiracy to cheat the public purse. 50-year-old Harvey Edwin Conroy, of Totteridge Park, London, was given 12 years in prison, the heaviest individual sentence.
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