Birmingham black market booze fraudsters jailed

Carl Wrenn and Anthony LucasImage copyright HMRC
Image caption Wrenn was a managing director and Lucas was a transport manager

Five men have been jailed for their part in supplying vast quantities of alcohol on the black market.

The men traded domestically in duty-suspended wine meant for sale abroad, evading excise duty costs.

The scam was uncovered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers who seized more than 50,000 litres with an excise value of £137,256.

The men were each charged with evading alcohol duty and were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court earlier.

They include:

  • Carl Wrenn, 50, of Solihull, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 38 months imprisonment
  • Anthony Lucas, 52, of Birmingham, who was found guilty after trial and sentenced to five years in prison
  • Wayne Howells, 50, of Gloucestershire, who was found guilty and received a five-year prison sentence
  • Joseph Edgar, 58, of East London, who admitted the charge and was handed a 17-month prison sentence
  • Marc Carrier, 53, of Gloucestershire, who was found guilty and sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

Wrenn and Carrier were disqualified from being company directors for six years while Lucas and Howells were disqualified for eight years.

HMRC said Wrenn was managing director of Birmingham-based hauliers Arden Forest Logistics Ltd where Lucas and Howells were transport managers and Edgar was a delivery driver.

Carrier was the director of another firm, Reading Logistics Ltd.

Image copyright HMRC
Image caption Carrier was a director of one firm while Howell was a transport manager for another

The operation was uncovered when officers stopped Edgar delivering duty-suspended wine to a Croydon cash and carry in April 2014. Officers seized 16,740 litres of wine with an excise value of £45,752.

Another 33,480 litres of wine, with an excise value of £91,504, was later seized in Reading, prompting a search of Arden Forest Logistics.

Image copyright HMRC
Image caption Wine was seized at an industrial estate in Reading in August 2014

Notebooks belonging to Howells and Lucas detailed duty-suspended alcohol being diverted to the black market, contributing to a revenue loss of £2m, HMRC said.

An HMRC spokeperson said the group operated at the “expense of UK taxpayers”.

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