Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Fuel and vehicles seized at suspected fuel laundering plant

A suspected fuel laundering plant near Crossmaglen was found and dismantled recently as part of a coordinated operation by Revenue and Customs investigating an alleged multi-million pound fuel fraud spanning Northern Ireland and Britain.

Simultaneous searches carried out at nine businesses and four residential addresses across the north and in England, which led to the arrests of three men – including a  31 year old man in Belfast.

More than 22,000 litres of suspected laundered fuel was seized in south Armagh raid, which took place on September 13th.  2,600 litres of lubricant, two box lorries, a caddy van, and a forklift were also taken away by officers investigating the suspected fuel fraud.  HMRC says the laundering plant had the capacity to produce 20 million litres of illicit fuel a year, potentially evading £11 million in revenue.

The operation involved more than 50 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), supported by North Wales Police and the PSNI.

The men detained were questioned by HMRC before being released pending further enquiries in the ongoing investigation.

Tracey Noon, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The illicit trade in laundered fuel is a serious crime and one we are determined to detect and disrupt.

“We remain alert to the often dangerous methods and efforts of criminals to remove the government markers from rebated fuel.

“Given that laundering plants have been found adjacent to homes and retail sites we would urge anyone with information about this dangerous activity to report it to HMRC.”