The 2009-10 financial year is on course to yield more smuggled drinks than the previous two years put together, according to official data from HMRC and the UK Border Agency.
Between April 1 2009 and February 28 2010, the total value of alcohol seized from smugglers came to £13.3 million. The figure includes the VAT and duty that would have been payable at UK rates.
It compares to £8.7 million in 2008-09 and £5.1 million in 2007-08 and could well eclipse the £14.1 million figure recorded in 2003-04, the first year in which central calculations were made.
The figures were given this week by Treasury minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry in response to a question from Liberal Democrat MP Paul Holmes.
It is not yet clear whether the increase represents a surge in smuggling or a more effective response by HMRC and the UKBA.