A diesel laundering plant and an illegal filling station have been dismantled by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in County Down, Northern Ireland.

HMRC, accompanied by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, searched farm outbuildings where the plant was uncovered. It was capable of producing around 1.8 million litres of illicit fuel and evading almost £1.1m in lost duty and taxes a year.

A search of a second property, also in County Down, revealed a “huckster” site. This illegal filling station was hidden in a shed at a private address. HMRC officers seized a number of vehicles and illicit fuel before dismantling the site.

A man from County Down was arrested by HMRC in connection with the seizures and has been released on bail. Investigations are continuing.

John Whiting, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Our activity has stopped a large amount of laundered fuel entering the legitimate market, preventing further revenue loss and helping our legitimate traders fight unfair competition. It is wrong that honest businesses should be undercut by criminals and those involved in making or selling laundered fuel; this is organised criminality.

“Buying illicit fuel not only funds crime, it 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 59 5000.”