Alcohol Smuggling

News and statistics about the illegal alcohol trade. Smuggling of alcohol to evade taxes, modern day bootlegging, and data about counterfeit alcohol and sprits is collected from security agencies, criminal justice programs and other public sources.

Bootlegging in Colombia causes an estimated $300 Million in lost tax revenue for the government. Cigarette smuggling also causes $300 Million in lost tax revenue in Colombia.

Source:  Elyssa Pachico, “Colombia’s Illegal Booze Trade Causing Headaches,” InSight, October 7. 2011.

Up to 50 percent of wine produced in Croatia is reported to be sold on the black market, leading to 30 million liters of wine being smuggled.

Source: “Some 50 per cent of Croatian wine sold on black market, daily claims,” Croatian Times, January 9, 2012.

An estimated 415,000 liters of beer that was smuggled into Norway from other countries were seized from bootleggers in 2011.

Source: Jenny Sundelin, “Cheap Swedish beer gives Norway a headache,” The Local, January 6, 2012.


A laboratory study at St. Andrews University found that counterfeit Scotch whiskies had less than 40 percent alcohol characteristics of authentic single malt whiskies.

Source: Dean Nelson, “Indians invent laser test to identify fake whisky,” Telegraph, November 2, 2011.

Authorities in the United Kingdom reported sales of bootlegged alcohol increased by 45 percent in 2009-2010. The smuggled alcohol was worth $1.2 Billion (800 Million British Pounds).

Source: Gaelle Walker, “Illicit tobacco sales fall while beer rises,” Grocer, September 29, 2011.

In the French port cities of Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer, Custom officers seized 82,000 liters of illegal spirits from bootleggers in August 2011. The number of seized bottles in the one month was equal to three months seizures in 2010. The potential lost tax revenue wold have been about $1.4 Million (1 Million Euros).

The alcohol was being smuggled to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Source: “France-UK alcohol smuggling surges,” Connextion, August 24, 2011.

Malaysia’s National Government losses up to $268 Million (800 Million Malaysian Ringgits) in tax revenue every year to bootlegging.

Source: “Alcohol Smuggling Causes RM800 Million Losses In Taxes,” Bernama, August 17, 2011.

Fake wines are sold in China at prices as little as $13 (90 Yuan) to as high as $5,440 (35,000 Yuan).

The counterfeit wine market in China is estimated to be worth $685 Million annually.

Source: AFP, “China awash with counterfeit vintage wine,” Google News, August 10, 2011. 

Drug trafficking in Turkey generated $1.7 Billion in 2010, according to a report by the Istanbul Chamber of Public Accountants and Financial Advisers.

Human smugglers in Turkey made $440 Million moving illegal migrants out of the country.

Source: “Illegal business activity revenue totaled $4.76 billion in 2010,” Today’s Zaman, August 1, 2011.

959,486 packs of smuggled cigarettes were found in Turkey in 2010, an increase of almost 50 percent from the 448,092 packs found in 2009.

38,219 bottles of smuggled alcohol were discovered in 2010, an increase of 63 percent from the 23,459 bottles discovered in 2009.

There was also an increase of counterfeit alcohol bottles in Turkey, with 14,012 bottles found in 2010, up from the 1,062 bottles found in 2009.

616 people in 2010 and 597 people in 2009 were charged by the criminal justice system in Turkey for smuggling  alcohol and cigarettes within the black market.

Source: Ankara, “High alcohol, cigarette taxes in Turkey promote smuggling, fraud,” Hurriyet Daily News, May 5, 2011.