A laundering plant capable of producing more than 16.4million litres of illicit fuel a year and potentially evading around £10.6m in taxes and duty was dismantled by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) after a raid on Wednesday night.

Officers from HMRC, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland searched premises in the Crossmaglen area of South Armagh and discovered the laundering plant within a tank storage area.

Officers seized 73,000 litres of fuel and also found more than 20 tonnes of toxic waste at the site, which is being dealt with by the NIEA.

John Whiting, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Every illegal laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, involving significant safety and environmental issues. 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 on 0800 59 5000 and contribute to the fight against this criminality.”

Officers also seized two tankers, one transit van, and over and underground tanks.