Five individuals accused of running "mini-factories" that produced counterfeit alcohol products have been arrested in the Siberian cities of Irkutsk and Usolye-Siberskoye, the Russian Ministry of the Interior's press office has announced.
"The most active participants of the organized group of so-called bootleggers, including the organizers, are charged with the sale of unmarked alcoholic products on a large scale and the marketing of counterfeit brand labels," the Interior Ministry statement read.
After reports of the arrests circulated local media, a resident who knew one of the suspects directed police to a trailer parked in the city of Shelekhov, which was found to contain 12 tons of alcoholic liquid.
It was previously reported that two mini-factories which produced counterfeit vodka on an industrial scale had been discovered by authorities in Irkutsk and Usolye-Siberskoye. Authorities arrested nine suspects and seized over half a million empty bottles, hundreds of thousands of forged brand labels, tax stamps, as well as nearly 30 tons of the counterfeit product.
Investigators discovered hawthorn berry bath concentrate, or boyaryshnik as it is known in Russian in one of the mini factories. Counterfeit boyaryshnik tainted with methanol was responsible for mass poisoning last December in Irkutsk, which killed almost 80 people.