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Customs officials smash illegal fuel laundering factory

By Deborah McAleese

An illegal factory where fuel laundering equipment was being manufactured and supplied has been dismantled by customs officials.

When officers raided the site at industrial units in north Lisburn they discovered 20 tonnes of unused laundering agent, seven purpose-made funnels and two 30,000 litre fuel tanks which were ready to supply fuel laundering plants in the province.

Officials said the industrial units are believed to be a laundering plant hub, where equipment used in the process is made and distributed, as well as being a centre where any hazardous waste is returned for disposal.

Ten tonnes of hazardous waste, as well as machinery and equipment used for fuel laundering, were removed from the three industrial units over the weekend by customs officials, who were accompanied by PSNI officers.

A forklift, a skip lorry, a teleporter and generators, as well as 50 large fuel pods, were also removed from the site.

Mike Connolly, assistant director, Specialist Investigations, for Revenue and Customs in Northern Ireland said: “The equipment being made in these industrial units could have been supplied anywhere in the province for the sole purpose of producing illicit fuel. The fact that our officers discovered a skip-lorry being used to transport the toxic waste shows that those involved in this activity have a total disregard for the environment and public safety.”

Investigations are continuing.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Organised Crime Task Force have launched a major offensive against fuel launderers.

The latest raid by HMRC comes just week after customs officials dismantled the largest ever diesel-laundering plant uncovered in Northern Ireland.

The plant was uncovered when revenue and customs officers raided farm buildings at Derrynoose, Co Armagh last month.

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