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Thousands Of Illegally Shipped Bottles of Alcohol Sold In Michigan

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UPDATED Thursday at 12:20 p.m.: Michigan has an alcohol smuggling problem. That’s according to the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. The association compiled data from the Liquor Control Commission and the state’s excise tax information to determine how much alcohol is being shipped to Michigan illegally.

Editor's Note: We need to clarify that the more than 400,000 bottles of alcohol shipped into Michigan during the first quarter of 2019 was the total amount of alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) shipped - both legal and illegal. Of the more than 408,397 bottles, nearly 130,000 of them were shipped illegally. In an earlier version we reported more than 400,000 bottles were illegally shipped. 

Spencer Nevins is president of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. He said the problem is the government tries to step in by sending a cease and desist order. But then the company just disappears and reopens with a small change in their name and the process has to start all over.

“We describe it like wack-a-mole. You wack it down and it just pops up somewhere else," said Nevins.

Nevins says this can be dangerous for consumers. That’s because without Michigan’s regulations and oversight, people could be buying tainted or recalled alcohol.

"What’s concerning is despite the state’s efforts to try to reign this in, there’s just an undying appetite for these out of state retailers to violate the law. They have no intention of following Michigan law." said Nevins. “When consumers are getting stuff from these kind of fly by night retailers from all across the country there is really no way to determine what they are getting.”

The association said from January through March of this year, almost 130-thousand bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state. 

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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