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Hundreds of thousands of illegal alcohol bottles making it onto Michigan liquor stores shelves

alcohol bottles on shelves
Adam Wilson
Nearly 130,000 bottles of alcohol were illegally shipped into Michigan in the first three months of this year.

Michigan has an alcohol smuggling problem, according to the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.

The group 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.

Nearly 130,000. That’s how many illegally shipped bottles of alcohol made their way to the walls of liquor stores across Michigan. That’s just from January through March of 2019, according to the group’s data.

Spencer Nevins is president of the association. He says the problem is the government will try to step in. It’ll send a cease and desist order, for example. 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 whack-a-mole. You whack it down and it just pops up somewhere else.”

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.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the 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. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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