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.

With alcohol being banned in Pakistan, a bootlegger can earn up to $4,000 a year selling bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky on the black market. The earnings is about seven times more than the average Pakistani yearly salary.

Some alcoholic smugglers pay police chiefs up to $1,200 a month in bribes in order to allow contraband alcohol to be allowed to pass through, with lower level bootleggers paying $350 in bribes to be released from police custody.

Cans of Carlsberg and Heineken are sold for $8 a can, and bottles of Whiskey sold for $25 to $50.

In general, prices of alcoholic beverages sold on the black market are 20 percent higher then the price when it was sold legally in bars.

(More income and cash payments from under the table jobs and services.)

Source:  Adam B. Ellick, “Bootlegging, Pakistan-Style,” New York Times, April 12, 2010.

Bootlegging in Indonesia led to 80 percent of all alcoholic drinks to have been bought on the black market and without paying taxes.

Indonesia’s Customs and Excise Office reported that there were 7 cases of large scale alcohol smuggling in the country in 2009 with a value of $1.9 Million.

Source:  AFP, “Indonesian brewers fret over excise tax hike,” Google News, March 24, 2010.

Source: Aditya Suharmoko, “Customs destroys illegal alcoholic drinks,” Jakarta Post, December 10, 2009.

Counterfeit alcohol sales of vodka is estimated to be $3.3 Billion (101 Billion Rubles) in Russia.

Source:  Bloomberg, “Bootleg Vodka Crackdown May Lift Legit Brands,” BusinessWeek, December 29, 2009.


Based upon currently available information, alcohol smuggling in the United States causes losses of $34 Million.

Moonshine in Virginia creates loss of $20 million.

$14 million lost to alcohol smuggling in Michigan.

Alcohol beer smuggling in Cambodia lead to $22 Million in lost tax revenue in 2006.

Source:  Legislative Committee Report, “Illegal Importation of Alcohol into Michigan,” Michigan Liquor Control Commission, January 15, 2008, page 16.

The United Kingdom government lost an estimated 750 Million British Pounds ($1.2 Billion) in taxes due to alcohol smuggling in 2001.

Source:  “Alcohol tax report: Frequently Asked Questions,”, May 26th, 2004.

Alcohol smuggling in Sweden lead to 8 percent of all alcohol consumed to have avoided taxes in the first half of 2009.

Source:  “Swedes drinking more smuggled liquor,” The Local, September 8, 2009.

Alcohol smuggling in Canada causes losses of $734 Million (800 Million Canadian) every year.

Source: ARA, “Ilicit and Non-Commercial Alcohol,” Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, accessed: August 20, 2009.

The U.S. State of Michigan losses at least $14 Million a  year in tax revenue to alcohol smuggling, according to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

Source: Michigan Liquor Control Commission, “Illegal Importation of Alcohol into Michigan,” Legislative Committee Report, January 15, 2008.

According to Revenue and Customs, one in eight bottles of alcohol consumed in the United Kingdom in 2008 was illegally smuggled into the country.  The year before, the ration was one in ten bottles that avoided taxes.

40 million liters of smuggled alcohol was consumed in the United Kingdom in 2008.

Source:  Allegra Stratton, “Smuggling of alcohol and tobacco into UK costing £5.5bn,” Guardian, December 27, 2008.