China arrests 15 for making bogus bottles for not-so-fine tipples

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese police have arrested 15 people suspected of producing more than 55,000 counterfeit bottles of brands of fine alcohol, which enabled them to sell off poor quality booze at top-drawer prices, the Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Police in Quanzhou city, in the southern province of Fujian, broke up three gangs running workshops that made fake bottles of several famous brands of baijiu, a fiery Chinese spirit, it said.

The suspects would buy cheap liquor for about 10 yuan a bottle and pour it into the counterfeit bottles, which ended up being sold in cities across the country for up to 400 yuan ($62) each.

The haul could have earned the con-men 100 million yuan ($15.58 million), Xinhua said.

At least two of the workshops had been operating since 2015.

China has increased its efforts to improve food safety after a series of scandals stoked public concern. However, liquor stores, restaurants and supermarkets still wage a constant battle against fake alcohol.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Robert Birsel