Over 1,000 litres of illicit liquor have been seized and 120 people arrested since a statewide lockdown was announced early May, as the demand for liquor shot up in nearby states and Haryana-based smugglers wanted to make a quick buck due to lower prices in the state, the police said. Most of the busts happened at interstate borders, with trucks primarily being used for the purpose, the police said.

Preet Pal Sangwan, the assistant commissioner of police (crime), said that more than 50 gangs were busted over the last two months for smuggling and supplying illicit liquor to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. “More than five gangs of over 20 people used to paste fake labels and holograms on liquor bottles and sell them as high-end liquor in Delhi-NCR. The gangs got fake labels and holograms from Delhi’s Sadar market and carried out packaging work at Bahadurgarh and Manesar, later supplying cases to smugglers, who also earned a good margin,” he said.

Sangwan said that the fake labels brought from Delhi cost 2 each and the holograms, 30 paise each. He said the smugglers rented places in isolated areas to avoid arousing suspicions and introduced themselves as owners of packaging units.

In the first week of June, nearly 50 people died due to spurious liquor consumption in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh on two different occasions, while officials estimate that the death toll could go up to 100 as autopsy reports of another 50 suspected hooch consumer victims are awaited. The police said that the Aligarh police received information about a full-fledged liquor factory being operated in Gururgam with help from UP’s liquor mafia, but that the location is yet to be identified.

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Sangwan said they are on the lookout for smugglers and crime teams have been put in place to scan for illegal activities. “Any information related to illicit liquor received, strict action is taken against them,” he said.

The police said they are investigating how the gangs procured alcohol-based chemicals, known as concentrators.

KK Rao, the commissioner of police, said that smugglers are using the lockdown to make a quick buck. “They smuggled liquor to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh through the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway and the Jaipur Expressway, besides using various internal roads. We have seized more than 4,000 bottles of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), 3,000 bottles of countrymade liquor and 96 bottles of beer during the lockdown. Last year, we had recovered 51,652 bottles of IMFL, 49,710 bottles of countrymade liquor and 15,393 bottles of beer during the lockdown,” he said.

Rao said that 380 cases and 389 arrests have been made so far this year, while 1,886 cases were filed and 1,941 arrests made last year.

The police have set up nearly 90 checkpoints and barricades to check every vehicle crossing the important stretches. Rao said all officials concerned have been asked to monitor interstate smuggling of liquor and submit a daily report to his office.

The above news was originally posted on www.hindustantimes.com