In the 12 months to the end of July this year the volume of counterfeit alcohol seized fell from 1,973 litres in 2013 to just 80 litres while the number of seizures also fell from 20 to just seven.
This year’s figures are somewhat more in line with those to the end of July 2012 which indicate that 232 litres of illegal alcohol were seized via seven operations.
However the number of people convicted in the latest figures rose from five to seven with the total fines imposed rising from €14,000 to €17,500.
A spokesman for the Revenue Commissioners told Drinks Industry Ireland, “Based on previous experience, we would expect that further detections of counterfeit spirits will be made before the end of the year, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas.
“Apart from 2012, when the number of seizures was seven, the annual number of seizures of counterfeit spirits has ranged from 13 to 20 in the period from 2009 to 2013. The annual quantity of counterfeit spirits seized in those years has ranged between 232 litres and 1,973 litres, reflecting variations in the sizes of individual seizures.
“Revenue works on an ongoing basis against the illegal trade in counterfeit spirits, but it’s in the nature of enforcement activity that there will be some variations between outcomes in different time periods. There is no particular reason for the similarity of outcomes, in terms of the number of seizures, between the years in question.
“Action to combat the illegal trade targets all stages of the supply chain. For example, in an intelligence-led operation in May this year, which also involved a number of European Customs agencies, Revenue Officers assisted by An Garda Síochána uncovered a major haul of counterfeit labelling and packaging material and bottle closures in Kilcurry, County Louth.
“Over 110,000 bottle closures, 400,000 counterfeit labels and 500 counterfeit cardboard outer cases were uncovered, along with a bottle-filling machine and ancillary equipment.
“We would reiterate that cheap alcohol from an irregular source is likely to be counterfeit and could potentially cause serious harm if consumed. For that reason – and also because of the risks posed to legitimate, law-abiding, trade, and the Exchequer – Revenue will continue its work against the illegal trade in counterfeit spirits with the aims of detecting and seizing illegal products and prosecuting persons found to be involved.”