31/03/2006

Illegal fuel plant discovered in County Londonderry

Police and Customs Officers have uncovered an illegal fuel laundering plant in County Londonderry.

During the raid, police arrested a man from mid-Ulster, however there are no further details on his identity.

The plant was discovered following a swoop on a farm near Tobermore in Londonderry in the joint operation last night.

Customs officers have said the fuel seized would have been worth around £800,000 in lost tax revenue and had the capacity to produce 30,000 litres of laundered fuel a week.

Following the discovery, Customs and police officers dismantled the sophisticated plant, which was set up in farm buildings, and cleared away around four tonnes of toxic, contaminated sludge from the site.

Investigators also recovered 10,350 litres of laundered fuel and seized a lorry, forklift truck, pumps, filtration and storage equipment.

A spokeswoman from HMRC Head of Detection Northern Ireland, today said that had the illegal plant not been shut down, it could have cost the tax payer a considerable amount in lost revenue, which could have gone towards schools and hospitals, rather that the pockets of criminals.

She also added that the waste was potentially dangerous to the local community.

(EF/SP)

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