Cecil County Liquor-Store Raids May Have Hurt Maryland Booze Sales
A flurry of media coverage today â€“ such as this in theÂ Capital Gazette and this in the Washington Post – is highlighting that booze sales in Maryland are off, a trend attributed to a new, higher booze tax in Maryland.
But a small detail in the coverage, used to emphasize the negative impact taxation has had on sales â€“ that distilled-spirits deliveries in Cecil County were down 57 percent in September, compared to Sept. 2011 â€“ suggested there may be another factor involved: an ongoing probe by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security into illegal booze smuggling of Maryland-taxed distilled spirits into New York spawned raids on five liquor stores this past summer in Cecil County, Md., as City Paper reported in September.
The search-warrant affidavit supporting the raids indicates that, in addition to liquor stores that serve as way-stations for mass quantities of booze bound for out-of-state retailers, agents are looking at the role liquor wholesalers may play in the lucrative scheme, which involves enormous amounts of distilled spirits. After this summerâ€™s raids, the booze-smuggling trade presumably took a hiatus, which, along with higher taxes, may help account for Marylandâ€™s laggard booze sales of late.