MEXICO – Mexican police have sieved over 20,000 bottles of counterfeit Coca-Cola in a rough neighborhood on the east side of Mexico City.

Most of the bottles were empty, but some were filled with what prosecutors called “supposed” cola, a clear indication that the fraudsters are trying to exploit the demand for “Mexican Cola.”

Investigators also found hoses, pumps, bottle washing facilities, and new bottle caps, suggesting that criminals were making their own Coke and distributing the drinks, as the prosecutors also found stolen delivery trucks.

“Information came to light that this property was possibly being used to manufacture soft drinks with similar characteristics to a well-known cola brand,” said prosecution spokesperson Ulises Lara.

Lara added that agents found crates containing about 780 full bottles, and almost 20,000 empty bottles “ready to be refilled.”

It was not clear if any of the so-called “Mexican Coke,” prized for its cane sugar and glass bottles, had made it to the export market.

According to Business Insider, the average Mexican drinks more than 700 cups of Coca-Cola a year — nearly double what Americans drink.

Analysts argue that for many consumers of Coke, Mexican Cola simply tastes better. A good deal of Coca-Cola fans believes that Mexican Coke tastes more “natural” than its American cousin.

This difference in taste is because American-made Coke switched over to using high fructose corn syrup as a sweetening agent in 1980.

Another difference between American cola and Mexican also stretches to packaging as American Coca-Cola comes in a plastic bottle or a can, while the Mexican variety travels in a glass. Nostalgia plays a role in the package choice, as glass-bottled Coca-Cola left the U.S. market decades ago.

“In my business, we sell Coca-Cola in different sizes, from individual bottles to three-litter ones. Glass-bottled Coca-Cola has a distinctive flavor. Many people may not notice the difference. However, it is quite sought after in the hot season. It is up to each of us, I guess. However, if you tell me that a 600-milliliter Coke tastes the same as a half-liter glass of Coca-Cola, I could say that it does not,” said Marcos Landa Hernández, a convenience store owner.

“The taste, which the bottle imparts on the drink, is significant to me. Like it or not, plastic changes Coke’s flavor, especially when kept at certain temperatures, but glass leaves the flavor untouched. The Coca-Cola formula is the same everywhere. I do not think that the difference lies in the ingredients.”

Per Tradexport website, Mexico is one of the leading consumers of soda drinks in the world and ranks fourth in the consumption of aerated drinks.

Fomento Económico Mexicano, S.A.B. de C.V. (FEMSA) serves the Mexican market and claims to be the largest franchise Coca-Cola bottler in the world.

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