Almost 2,200 vans full of illegally imported beer arrived in the city from Calais in 1999.
Portsmouth had established itself as a distribution hub in the south-east for criminal gangs who could make thousands of pounds a year by avoiding British duty.
The Brewers & Licensed Retailers’ Association estimated more than 100,000 vans made the journey from Calais to Britain that year.
Portsmouth was the biggest city for the bootleg trade in the south outside London.
The south-east accounted for almost half of van destinations in the country.