13/06/2002

Crackdown on illegal fuel trade continues

A major fuel laundering plant, three filling stations and over 100 vehicles have been snared in a weeklong blitz by Customs on illegal fuel trading.

The laundering plant, which was discovered in farm buildings on the outskirts of Cookstown, County Tyrone had the capacity to launder over 100,000 litres of diesel per week.

During the operation Customs officers also seized around 47,000 litres of laundered fuel and an estimated £50,000 of pumping, storage and filtration equipment.

A Customs officer described the seizure as a “significant hit” on illegal fuel trade.

In separate operations this week, Customs seized 137 vehicles detected using illegal fuel. Ten taxis in the Coleraine area and ten buses in the Larne area were among those seized, along with a number of other commercial and private vehicles.

In other province-wide operations, three filling stations and a laundered fuel-bunkering site where illegal fuel was discovered have been closed down.

A Customs spokesperson said: “We have closed down four laundering plants in as many weeks, which together had a capacity to launder in excess of 450,000 litres of diesel a week.

“With the vehicles and filling stations also caught in our recent blitz, this represents a significant hit on the illegal fuel trade.

“We have repeatedly warned motorists to think before buying cheap fuel and we are making it quite clear that we will continue to target illicit fuel use. Motorists face not only expensive repairs to their engine but risk having their vehicle seized.”

(AMcE)

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