Fake rum produced using cleaning chemicals is the latest hot commodity among counterfeit goods unearthed by law enforcers in Jamaica.
At a press conference hosted by the Counter- Terrorism and Organized Crime (C-TOC) Branch yesterday, when millions of dollars of seized fake goods were on display, officers presented a worrying find: Two huge drums containing chemicals intended for cleaning purposes that were confiscated from a makeshift distillery operated by organised gangs.
“What they are doing is taking alcohol that is intended for the clean-up market – meaning, to clean tiles –…and they are using a creative process that they have found on the Internet to move it from what it is into a form that is capable of allowing you to drink it and get the same vibes as you would if it were true alcohol,” the Jamaica Gleaner quoted Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry as saying.
He warned it was potentially deadly and advised members of the public to be on their guard, especially for rum sold in suspicious-looking plastic containers.
“If you consume this for any length of time, then it starts damaging organs. It could lead to blindness, your organs could collapse, and you could even die as a result,” Berry said. “So we are urging people to be wary of purchasing alcohol that may look and smell like rum but, in fact, is not rum.”
Since the discovery, Berry said a number of people had been arrested and the makeshift distillery destroyed.
He urged the island’s rum producers to partner with police to crack down on the illegal practice, revealing that leading producer J. Wray & Nephew Limited had already done so to protect its product.
According to the CTOC officials, counterfeit goods is big business in Jamaica and criminals have been making a mint to fund organised crime.
Clothing, shoes, CDs, DVDs, handbags, bleaching creams, T-shirts, electronic and household appliances were among the J$1.9 billion (US$14.8 million) worth of items seized last year by CTOC
Earlier this week, authorities confiscated counterfeit sneakers valued at J$20.5 million (US$1.6 million) during a raid in Montego Bay.
Head of the unit, Assistant Police Commissioner Clifford Chambers, said that proceeds from the sale of these items were being used to purchase illegal guns and ammunition.
“We are seeing the networks using the same safe houses, the same routes, the same gang members, and the same communities moving around these goods, and we have arrested persons. You can understand clearly the link between guns, ammunition, and the current environment with regard to counterfeit items,” he said.
The counterfeit items were destroyed at an undisclosed location yesterday.