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.

Alcohol smuggling in Iran brings in $2.5 Million a day. (365 X 2.5 = $912.5 Million)

Source:  Jackie Bennion, “Iraq: The Alcohol Smugglers,” Frontline, August 20, 2007.

The illegal market in alcohol is bigger then the legal alcohol market in Sri Lanka. 77 percent of the alcohol consumed in the country was purchased on the black market, compared to 22 percent of legally sold alcohol.

Source: Claire Weekes , “Illicit alcohol consumption is rife, warns new report,” Harpers Wine & Sprits, November 28, 2008.

Although banned by the government, alcohol is available for purchase to people in Iran on the black market.

According to a report in the New York Times, various flavors of Absolut Vodka is available for $21 a bottle, and a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream costs $43 on the black market.

In 2004, around 19 people died from drinking harmful bootleg alcohol.

Source:  Nazila Fathi, “As Liquor Business Booms, Bootleggers Risk the Lash,” New York Times, April 4, 2006.


2 million bottles of counterfeit alcohol was seized in Moscow in 2008.  6,041 people were intoxicated from counterfeit alcohol and 1,069 people died from drinking counterfeit alcohol in the city in 2008.


Counterfeit goods in Argentina account for 75 percent of all sales made within the country, according to an estimate published by the European Trade Commission.

Among the items in Argentina’s counterfeiting industry:

  • Counterfeit sparkling wine producers in Argentina sell 4 million bottles a year. The counterfeit bottles misappropriate the geographic indications of where the sparkling wine was produced, and sales of the counterfeit bottles make up to 50 percent of the total market.
  • The sale of counterfeit pesticides in Argentina leads to losses of $26 Million (18.5 Million Euros) for legitimate agrochemical producers.
  • Sales of counterfeit cigarettes account for 8.8 percent of all cigarettes sales in Argentina.
  • Up to $100 Million in revenue is lost each year due to movie and television piracy. The total losses is equal to about 52 percent of the total potential movie market.


Alcohol smuggling in the state of Virginia causes losses of $20 million a year in tax revenue to “moonshining”, a home-made and illegally smuggled whiskey.

According to the Economist, the whiskey is “cheaply made in 800-gallon stills, mot of it smuggled to poor inner cities and sold at half the price of its legal counterparts, avoiding state and federal taxes which run at roughly $25 per gall (3.8 litres) of whiskey.”


Counterfeit alcohol bottles of vodka consisted of 28 percent of all vodka sales in Russia in 2008, as around 5 million bottles of counterfeit vodka was sold in stores.


According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the most popular counterfeit food products in the world were kiwis, preserved vegetables, powdered milk, butter, ghee, baby food, instant coffee, alcoholic drinks and corn seeds.


Counterfeit Alcohol is the selling of cheap, fake alcohol under brand names.

The International Federation of Spirits Producers stated that counterfeit alcohol leads to an estimated  $1 Billion (600 to 900 Million Euros) annual loss.


Click here to see the complete breakdown of the global black market in alcohol smuggling.