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Laundering plant hidden behind hay bales

MORE than one-and-a-half tonnes of toxic waste were removed from a cattle farm in Cullyhanna after the discovery of a diesel laundering plant by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Officers from HMRC and the PSNI searched farm buildings in the area yesterday (Thursday) and discovered the laundering plant hidden behind a wall of round hay bales.

The illegal operation – which used slurry tankers to launder and transport the diesel – was capable of producing 1.8 million litres of illicit fuel, evading almost £1.2 million in taxes and duty a year.

John Whiting, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: “This laundering plant was located on a working farm, using farm equipment to launder the diesel.

“Every illegal laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, involving significant safety and environmental issues, which flies in the face of countryside protection. 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.

“Buying illicit fuel funds crime and supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities. The only winners are the criminals.

“I would urge anyone with information on fuel misuse in their area to contact our free telephone hotline, 0800 59 5000, and contribute to the fight against this criminality.”

Two slurry tankers used to launder and transport the fuel, 2,800 litres of illicit fuel – along with pumps and fuel tanks – were also removed from the site.

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