A man has been arrested after a laundering plant capable of producing nearly 13 million litres of illicit fuel a year, and evading over £9m in duty and taxes, was discovered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) during a search of industrial premises in the Meigh area of south Armagh.

Officers from HMRC and the Police Service of Northern Ireland seized 3,000 litres of fuel and removed 15 tonnes of toxic waste from the site. They also seized plant, machinery and two vehicles.

The man who was arrested has been released on bail and investigations are continuing.

Mike Parkinson, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Our success in this operation means we have stopped a large amount of illicit fuel entering the legitimate market, preventing further revenue loss and helping law-abiding traders fight unfair competition. We have also safely removed toxic waste which can cause untold damage to the environment and local landscape.

“These are difficult times for businesses economically and it is impossible for legitimate traders to compete on an unfair playing field. We owe it to them to support them in any way we can.

“Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime, it also supports and encourages these dangerous activities within our communities. If anyone has information about fuel fraud we would encourage them to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”