Last week, Spanish authorities exposed a massive international wine fraud operation, worth up to 100 million euros (roughly $116 million).
The suspects are accused of producing adulterated wine using cheap substitutes such as corn syrup and grain alcohol, Wine Business International reports. The illegal ingredients were used to lower the cost of production, rather than increase the alcohol content of the “wines.”
Six individuals were arrested in Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid as part of the crime ring, which is now being associated with acts of fraud, smuggling, money laundering, and criminal organization. The illegal network spanned multiple countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Holland, Moldova, Russia, and Spain.
The arrests followed an investigation that began in 2018, codenamed Isolu. The crime ring was caught by officials in Spain’s Tax Office in Castilla-La Mancha after they noticed the unusual ingredients being ordered for wine and spirits production.