Customs officials bust huge illegal diesel factory in south Armagh
Customs officials have shut down a diesel laundering plant capable of producing over 22 million litres of illicit fuel a year – evading almost £14m in revenue.
HM Revenue and Customs and PSNI officers made the discovery as they raided an isolated farm building in the Jonesborough area of south Armagh last Friday.
During the operation officers removed over 26 tonnes of toxic waste – the by-product of the laundering process – and 700 litres of illicit fuel, as well as vehicles, pumps and equipment.
Pat Curtis, HMRC's national oils co-ordinator, said: "Every illegal laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, involving significant safety and environmental issues.
"As taxpayers and local ratepayers, not only are we missing out on the stolen tax that ends up the pockets of the criminals, we are also paying the substantial clean-up and disposal costs."
It was reported that an ex-IRA smuggling boss had hired scientists in a desperate bid to crack a new diesel marker introduced on both sides of the border. The colourless marker allows the authorities to identify illegal fuel.
However, the south Armagh smugglers were unable to remove the marker, and, according to Garda and Customs sources in the Republic, diesel washing and smuggling could be coming to an end.