It ain't even close to being rocket science. If you lower taxes on a popular product like booze in one state (Massachusetts) and then raise taxes on that same stuff in a neighboring state (Connecticut), you can be pretty sure what's going to happen.

"Even our regular customers say it doesn't pay to buy here," says Gail Colby, an employee at the Four Corners Package Store on Post Office Road in Enfield, barely five miles south of the Massachusetts border.

Last November, Massachusetts voters decided to eliminate their state's one-year 6.25 percent tax on alcohol sales, effective Jan. 1, 2011. Six months later, Connecticut's tax on alcohol jumped by 20 percent.

The result, according to Carroll Hughes, was an inevitable surge in Connecticut consumers heading across the border to load up on beer, wine and liquor. Hughes is spokesman for the Connecticut Package Stores Association and he believes Connecticut officials are ignoring what amounts to an illegal smuggling operation.

He says there are lots of dudes with pickup trucks from Connecticut who are loading up cases of beer and booze north of the border and driving back to deliver them to bars and restaurants in this state. That little scam would violate a Connecticut law that allows this state's residents to bring back up to four gallons of alcoholic beverages per trip for their personal use.

"They're the modern bootleggers," Hughes says of those alleged pickup-truck beer runners. He says he's been writing to state tax and consumer protection officials, urging them to start watching the parking lots of Massachusetts liquor stores along the border and checking who's loading up with 10 or 20 cases of beer.

According to Hughes, his letters have been ignored. According to Sarah Kaufman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue Services, officials in her agency "have no correspondence from Mr. Hughes."

"If he does have any factual evidence he would like to share with us, we would welcome it," Kaufman says.

Connecticut tax officials also say they don't yet have any hard data on how much, if any, tax revenue this state is losing to Massachusetts because of the change that hit July 1. Kaufman says figures for July won't be available until later this month.

To give you an idea of the impact of the Connecticut tax increase, the tax on a gallon of distilled liquor went from $4.50 to $5.40 as of the beginning of July. The tax on wine went from $0.60 cents to $0.72 cents a gallon; and the tax on a gallon of beer went from $0.20 to $0.24 cents.

Hughes argues that Connecticut tax revenues from alcohol sales increased by about 6 percent in 2010, the year that Massachusetts had that 6.25 percent sales tax on booze in effect. He says that, as soon as the Massachusetts tax was taken off on Jan. 1, more Connecticut consumers began to migrate north to buy their booze and that the surge obviously got bigger in July.

"The traffic in some of those [Massachusetts liquor] stores is heavy every day of the week," says Hughes.

Kathy Dagon, a sales clerk at Kaman's Wine & Liquors in Somers, Conn., agrees. That store sits on Route 83, little more than five miles from the border.

"When the [July 1] taxes came out, there were a lot of people complaining, saying how Massachusetts had cut their taxes," Dagon says.

Gail Colby says Connecticut folks who live within easy driving distance of Massachusetts head north not only because the booze is cheaper, but so is gasoline and cigarettes. Those Massachusetts liquor stores can also stay open until 11 p.m. and sell on Sunday, she points out, while Connecticut package stores must close by 9 p.m. and shut on Sundays.

Colby laughs a little sadly when talking about the situation. "You can't blame people," she says. "Everything is cheaper up there."