A well-respected chemist lived a life of luxury raking in more than £10million after secretly set up an illegal moonshine distillery.
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Mridyul Das, 31, used his expert knowledge from working at a top pharmaceutical company to set up an illicit brewery which produced crates of bootleg vodka and whisky.
He would then to sell the counterfeit spirits from the back of a lorry at hugely discounted prices to black market contacts.
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The spirits are thought to have been sold to an unsuspecting public at car boot sales, market stalls, shops, off licences, bars and clubs.
Das used the huge profits from the illegal racket to fund an extravagant lifestyle which included a fleet of luxury cars and regular exotic holidays.
Investigators found he had made around £10million from the operation, owned two houses and drove a luxury £50,000 Audi A4 sports car and a £120,000 Lamborghini.
Das, who is serving a nine year sentence for offence, was sentenced to five years imprisonment this week after pleading guilty at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester to the additional charge of attempting to manufacture Class A drug, LSD. View attachment 6531
The court heard Das, who worked at pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca, used his expert knowledge of chemicals to purchase 100 per cent ethanol and use it to manufacture his own vodka and whisky.
He created his own bottle production plant at a warehouse in Oldham, Greater Manchester - then used a printing press to package his counterfeit goods - faking the well-known vodkas Royal Czar, Tamova and Glens.
In scenes echoing Hollywood movie 'The Untouchables' about Al Capone's bootleg empire during the US Prohibition Era, Das ran a gang which helped bottle up the vodka and paste on labels before shipping them out by the lorry load.
Each lorry contained 1,500 crates with each crate containing 12 litre bottles of his counterfeit vodka.
Each crate would be sold for around £20 a time - up to 80 per cent cheaper than it would see on the High Street.
Das was caught in a joint investigation by customs officers and police who discovered he had also been running an LSD factory in neighbouring Ashton-under-Lyne - again using his knowledge of chemicals to produce the drug. View attachment 6532
His three accomplices pleaded guilty to the Excise offences and each were sentenced to 18 months supervision orders, 150 hours community service and were each fined £1.000.
Peter Hollier from HM Revenue and Customs Criminal Investigations said: 'This was an organised criminal gang manufacturing illicit vodka on a huge scale and defrauding the Treasury and public alike.
'If you buy your tipple from a non-licensed market trader, the back of a van, a neighbour or work colleague you are probably funding criminality, and ultimately major organised criminal gangs that operate behind the scenes.
'It may seem like a harmless saving for your purse but it involves criminality that costs taxpayers millions of pounds every year.
'Customs officers are focusing on those that trade on a commercial scale, in an attempt to fraudulently evade tax and duty, putting honest retailers and licensees out of business.'
Customs officers calculated he had personally benefited by £10,122,993.70 from the vodka distillery in Oldham alone.
At a proceeds of crime hearing Das was ordered to pay back £312,000 within six months or face a further six months in jail.
Detective Inspector John Ogdon, of Greater Manchester Police said: 'Das was using his knowledge from the chemical industry to create illegal, dangerous substances.
'Not only in the production of illegal drugs, but also fraudulently producing vodka, for which he was arrested in August 2005.'
The Government introduced a measure in 2004 which requires every bottle containing spirits with a 30 per cent strength to have a duty stamp in a bid to put a stop to the production of fake spirits and black market racketeers.
By Jaya Narain
Last updated at 9:22 PM on 04th December 2008
Daily Mail Online