By Ian Neubauer

A gang of Russian and Estonian smugglers pumped thousands of litres of vodka through a 2km-long underground pipeline between their two countries to avoid paying excise on the alcohol.

Eleven Russian and Estonian nationals are facing up to five years in jail for smuggling low-quality bootleg vodka to sell on the black market, with prosecutors estimating the scheme cheated the public pursuer of approximately $100,000 in taxes, the St Petersburg Times reported. 

“It might sound weird and unbelievable but it is a very real criminal case,” said Estonian prosecutor’s office spokesperson, Mari Luuk.

“The investigation has established that in November 2004 the suspects attempted to sell some of the smuggled alcohol in Tallinn but owing to the low quality of the product they failed to find customers.” 

Vodka smuggling has became big business in former Soviet states like Estonia, where the spirit is on average 150 per cent more expensive than in Russia.

In 2006, Estonian border guards discovered another vodka pipeline that had been laid along the bottom of a river demarcating the Russian border. 

“That time the pipeline was discovered before it was in use,” Luuk said.


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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