Lough Ross laundering plant dismantled

A suspected diesel laundering plant, discovered on a farm overlooking the shores of Lough Ross in Co Armagh, has been dismantled by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Officers from HMRC, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, searched the farm in the Crossmaglen area, where the laundering plant was uncovered in an agricultural shed. Officers also found more than 4.5 tonnes of toxic waste at the site.

The plant is estimated to be capable of producing over 7.5 million litres of illicit fuel a year, potentially evading around £4.3 million in taxes and duty.

Mike Parkinson, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Every illegal laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, leading to significant safety and environmental issues. The location of this laundering plant, on a farm overlooking Lough Ross, raises concerns around the potential pollution risks involved.

“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.”

Storage tanks, pumps and other equipment used in the fuel laundering process, along with three vehicles, have been seized from the site. A 52-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the investigation and has been released on bail. Investigations are on-going.