Several persons in Kingston are cashing in on their fake alcohol business. So good is the market, that Jason Smith* has hired an assistant to deliver the products to his customers in other sections of the Corporate Area.
"Me make me own ting. It sell more than hot bread and the rum head dem love it cuz mine little stronger," he said.
Smith said his suppliers include numerous bar operators and liquor stores.
"The bar owners dem give me back the bottles when dem finish and me just full it up and sell them back for $1,000 a bottle. Normally, them would spend $1,700. If is a case dem a buy like the liquor store dem, me sell dem at $800 a bottle," he said.
Although he was tight-lipped about the ingredients he uses, he stated that the components are similar to those of 'regular' rum.
"The only difference is that I mix up mine in a drum in a my living room, and the company dem use the sophisticated machine dem. Nuff time me see people bun me out and say dem nah buy from me, but go buy the same ting from a wholesale that me supply," he said.
On a good week, Smith says he easily makes $70,000 after paying his assistant $10,000 for his services.
"To me, it's a honest bread because me nah tief nobody and me have a little daughter. Me a go wah move out a me board house and build a concrete and me plan to use this business and do it. Me buy a little bike but me wah upgrade and buy a car, cuz me wah can carry out me family and no worry bout rain," he said.
A few houses away, Smith's longtime friend James Brown* is busy filling bottles. He told The STAR that he has his own version of top shelf liquor but the demand for that is low.
"A regular man nah go buy that a bar. People more buy special a bar, so that's why we do this. There is a market in it for everyone so me and my brethren never have the same customer dem. Jamaicans love party bad so dem log on to it," he said.
Both 'rum' vendors said they are aware that they could be prosecuted if they are caught selling the self-made products, but said they are not bothered or fearful.
"Life is a gamble, enuh. You just have to do you ting. Police buy from me too but just in case a no any a my police brethren dem run in, me just either go pay dem off or do the time," Smith said.
On Saturday, the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime (CTOC) investigation branch charged two men after they were found selling fake liquor to wholesalers in St Ann. Nineteen cases were seized, valuing approximately $380,000. Attempts to reach CTOC yesterday proved futile.