The Spanish Civil Guard recently dismantled a large counterfeiting ring dedicated to importing fake rum. The international operation combined teams of law enforcement working in multiple different countries around the world.
The investigation began in February 2019, according to The Drinks Business. After locating a large consignment of rum bottles in Cádiz, authorities had the liquid analyzed and found it was fake. From there, they traced the bottles back to the Netherlands.
Tracing back even further, the team found that the spirits were originally produced in the Dominican Republic, then bottled in Honduras. From there, they were fit with counterfeit labels produced in China, and sent to Spain via tax warehouses in the Netherlands. Upon arrival, the spirits were then distributed in 10 Spanish cities, including Barcelona and Madrid.
Once officers were able to locate the primary warehouse in the Netherlands they seized 147,000 counterfeit bottles of rum. Shortly after, Honduran authorities intercepted two more containers of fake rum worth about $605,000.
While authorities refrained from sharing specific names, the Spanish Civil Guard explained in a press release that the spirits were labeled and sold as three different brands.
All in all, officers questioned 50 Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese companies about the operation, while more than 20 individuals have so far been arrested. With such a sophisticated, international operation, someday rum may eventually overshadow the counterfeit whiskey world.