Tens of thousands of pounds worth of illegally imported alcohol was seized in what police have described as Harrow’s biggest ever booze haul.
Officers from HM Revenue and Customs raided four off-licences in Wealdstone town centre, where they found hundreds of crates of untaxed spirits, beer, cider and wine.
Such was the size of the seizure, a lorry had to be ordered to remove the vast quantities of drink, which included at least one shop’s entire stock.
Stores targeted included Super and Harrow Food and Wine in High Street, as well as Pillayar Food and Wine and Harrow and Wealdstone Food and Wine in Masons Avenue.
The seizures were part of a day of operations run by Harrow Police, London Fire Brigade, Harrow Council and HM Revenue and Customs.
Sergeant Simon Fretwell, who organises the monthly operations across the borough, said: “It does give you a buzz when you get a haul like this.
“This is what we’re here for and it is quite satisfying when you get results like this.”
The alcohol will likely be poured away once it has been checked by customs officials after its removal.
Today’s action day included trading standards checks on licensed premises, clean ups in flytipping hot spots, automatic number plate recognition operations and fire safety checks in businesses and public buildings.
Sergeant Fretwell said: “It’s important because there are other businesses legitimately paying their duty and taxes on alcohol and it’s unfair when others make a massive profit on drink that is not even supposed to be in the country.”
Police are also keeping an eye out for weapons stashed by the Greyset Gang, which was at one time named among the top 20 of London’s most notorious gangs.
Sergeant Fretwell added: “Things are not as bad as they used to be but it is about monitoring these gangs and staying on top of them.”
A total of 23 police officers and four sergeants, as well as around 20 council staff will be carrying out checks and clean-ups in the town centre.
Sergeant Fretwell said: “It is about cleaning up the area and making it safer – if we didn’t carry out these operations, things would only get worse.
“We’re all here at the same time so we can tackle these problems today and get things sorted – it’s a very productive way of policing.”