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Czechs break up ring of illegal booze producers

January 17, 2014

PRAGUE (AP) — Officials say police have broken up a criminal network that was making and distributing a massive amount of illegal alcohol in the Czech Republic.

State prosecutor Petr Sereda says 15 people have been arrested, including the suspected boss of the ring. Sereda said Friday police seized almost 2.3 million liters (600,000 gallons) of untaxed ethanol and that a tax evasion from the illegal sales would be higher than 3 billion koruna ($148 million).

Robert Slachta, the chief of the police’s organized crime unit, said investigators uncovered the network following a wave of methanol poisoning that killed dozens in the Czech Republic in 2012.

Authorities estimated some 20 percent of spirits available in bars and restaurants have been manufactured on the black market.

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