Police make major haul of bootlegged alcohol in Tibás

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Jorge Alonso Alvarez V
Police officer inspects bottles of fake guaro, the cane liquor.

Police and tax agents have traced a truck load of bootlegged alcohol to its source and confiscated some 60,000 liters of what officials say is adulterated liquid.

The factory for the illegal alcohol is in Tibás, a community where other smaller operations have been located.

In addition to evading taxes, police said the factory infringed on trademarks by labeling bottles with the names of national and international alcoholic beverages. No arrests were reported.

Participating in the enforcement effort were representatives of the Fábrica Nacional de Licores, the government alcohol monopoly.

A.M. Costa Rica has warned in the past of the prevalence of fake bottles of alcohol. The Fuerza Pública said that the alcohol in this operation was kept in unsanitary conditions and was being mixed with water that also had not been treated correctly.

Police said they confiscated 1,000 boxes, each containing 24 bottles of liquor, mostly guaro, a cheap sugar cane liquor. The bottles were in the factory and in the truck that was making deliveries.

Other lots of alcohol were in tanks.

Tax agents said that the loss to the government would have been 150 million colons if the alcohol had reached the retail market. That’s about $300,000.

Agents also found containers of colorant that would be used to make clear alcohol appear as if it were rum. Among the fake brands were several types of rum. In all there were 24 different types of labels. Most of the bottles were 365 milliliters, the smaller size preferred by low-income drinkers.

The fake alcohol is sold to legitimate merchants who mix it on their store shelves with authentic products. Or the bottles are sold in those illegal bars that are found in many neighborhoods. Bootlegged alcohol like this is a major health hazard.

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