Illegal alcohol brewed at blast plant

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The Independent Online

Police investigating an explosion at an industrial unit that left five Lithuanian men dead today confirmed it was being used to produce illegal alcohol.

Vaidas Krupenkinas, 39, Ovidijus Mejeris, 26, Laimutis Simkus, 32, Ricardas Gecas, 24, and Erlandas Duzinskas, 18 - all Lithuanian nationals living in the Peterborough area - died after the blast at the unit on the Broadfield Industrial Estate in Boston on Wednesday night.

A sixth victim who survived but was critically injured has not yet been named.

The exact cause of the explosion has not yet been revealed, but Lincolnshire Police had previously said investigators found chemicals suggesting illegal alcohol was being manufactured.

And today the force confirmed that the unit housed a filtration plant that was being used for the production of illicit alcohol being distributed and sold as Vodka.

Detective Superintendent Guy Collings said: "The existence of this enterprise illustrates that there is a market for counterfeit alcohol and we would urge the public to ensure that they only purchase from legitimate sources and check products to ensure they are genuine".

Mark Keal, Divisional Manager for Advice and Information at Lincolnshire Trading Standards, said: "When we have seized counterfeit alcohol in the past, it has contained substances such as chemicals used in cleaning products that would certainly be harmful to people's health.

"To reduce the demand for such products, the public really need to be aware that counterfeit alcohol is not a bargain, but illegal and potentially deadly.

"We work with our partners in Lincolnshire Police and HMRC to take these products off the shelves of irresponsible retailers.

"Counterfeit alcohol will generally be much lower in price than genuine branded products, and the labelling will often be low quality and may contain spelling mistakes.

"We would urge people to carefully consider where they buy their alcohol and avoid buying it from places like markets, car boot sales or from individuals."

An HM Revenue & Customs spokeswoman said: "The tragic events in Boston have underlined the risks that go with the illegal distillation of alcohol.

"In just over the last 12 months HMRC, working with other law enforcement agencies, has closed down three illegal stills and six men have been prosecuted for producing counterfeit vodka, resulting in prison sentences totalling over 56 years.

"Illegal alcohol undermines all honest alcohol traders whilst putting at risk the lives of those who consume and produce it."

She said anyone with information about illicit alcohol should contact the Customs hotline on 0800 595 000.