“Vodka Pipeline” Links Russia and Estonia

An ambitious group of smugglers managed to build a 1.2 mile long pipeline across the Russian-Estonian border with the intention of pumping contraband vodka into the EU. According to this story from the Telegraph, they actually managed to get more than 1630 gallons across the border before their operation was discovered and shut down.

It seems that vodka is far cheaper in Russia than Estonia, so the plan was to circumvent the import tariffs by pumping the booze through the pipeline, and selling it for huge profits. Those plans were thwarted last Fall however when Estonian authorities discovered the untaxed vodka hidden in a truck. Now, the 11 bootleggers, some from Russia, some from Estonia, face up to five years prison, along with massive fines. All told, the group managed to avoid paying as much as 20,000 Euros in taxes.

The scary thing is that this isn’t the first time that someone has built such a pipeline. Authorities shut down the first one back in 2004 and another in 2006, although that one wasn’t in operation yet. You certainly have to salute the ingenuity and engineering prowess that goes into these projects. It’s also good to know that in the wake of the global economic downturn, at least the bootleggers are making some money.

[via Gizmodo]