Laundered fuel uncovered at plants
Customs officers and police have uncovered thousands of litres of laundered diesel and tons of toxic waste at illegal fuel plants in Co Armagh.
Officials said the operations found on an industrial estate on the Moy Road in Armagh, and in the Cullaville area, could produce 13 million litres of illicit diesel a year, potentially costing an annual £8 million in lost government revenue.
Tuesday's raids led to the discovery of 11,000 litres of laundered fuel and 17.5 tons of toxic waste, a by-product of the filtration process carried out on subsidised diesel intended for agricultural use.
Czech customs officials sharing expertise in combating similar criminal operations were observers at the operation to dismantle the two fuel laundering plants.
Revenue and Customs' Mike Connolly said: "Fuel laundering is unregulated and dangerous. The by-products from the laundering process can cause severe damage to the environment with taxpayers and local ratepayers having to pay for the clean-up and disposal costs.
"This contaminated fuel could have been transported anywhere across Northern Ireland, endangering other road users.
"We continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF), including the PSNI to stop the damage this criminal activity causes, both to our communities, to local businesses and the environment."
He appealed for anyone with information on illegal fuel to contact the authorities.
Michaela Zatletalova, Customs Investigations Officer with the Regional Anti-Fraud Office in the Czech Republic, said the eastern European country faced other types of fuel fraud crime.