- Story Highlights
- Moonshine: 5 people killed after illegal vodka operation goes up in flames
- Illegal Alcohol: UK police say it's cheap and available but that it contains high levels of methanol and can cause blindness
5 Killed in UK Moonshine Operation Explosion
Police in the UK say that chemicals and equipment found with the debris at a blast site in an industrial estate in Lincolnshire indicate an illegal vodka making factory. Bottles of black-market vodka can be bought in the area for as little as 2 pounds and are marketed mainly at the large Eastern European immigrant community.
The explosion was heard miles away and the heat in the small industrial garage was so intense that it killed 5 men virtually instantly, buckled the steel loading doors and ignited cars parked out front. Only one man was lucky enough to survive, and he remains in very critical condition with 3rd degree burns to 75% of his body.
Area police have recently seen an upsurge in counterfeited vodka in local off license shops, particularly those which serve the large Eastern European immigrant farm labor population, but until the blast and fire clean-up officials had no idea that production was a local affair.
None of the men had any identification on them and no one has come forward to identify the workers or to report any missing persons – which police say indicates an organized crime operation.
Bottles of vodka packaged to look like major brands could be had for as little as 2 pounds and police say that many in the immigrant community knew about and purchased the discounted drink. Testing done on confiscated bottles revealed high levels of methanol, which can cause blindness when consumed.
Commenting on the explosion and the growing illegal alcohol problem in the area, Lincolnshire MP Mark Simmonds said, "We must get information into the public domain to make people realize how dangerous it is not just to make it, but to consume illicit alcohol."