A VAN laden with £5,000 of booze was seized after the driver was suspected of smuggling the alcohol.

The van was stopped by Essex Police’s comercial vehicle unit at the Moto Services on the M25 at Thurrock as part of a crackdown on comemrcial drivers flouting the law.

Police found the van, which was heading from East London to Suffolk, was overloaded by more than two tonnes and was packed with booze for which it is believed no excise duty was paid.

The driver had also been stopped twice previously for attempting to avoid paying tax on alcohol.

The man was fined £600 for having an overloaded vehicle and the alcohol and van were seized by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

During the stopchecks, codenamed Operation Mermaid, last Thursday, police also made a Romanian lorry driver take an enforced nine-hour break and fined him £200 after he was was to have failed to complete his driving hour records for carrying a load from Spain to Cambridgeshire.

Thirty six other commerical drivers were found to have flouted restrictions on their driving hours, two cars were seized for having no insurance, three vehicles had no MOT and a lorry driver was fined £60 and given three penalty points for using a mobile.