A suspected diesel laundering plant, discovered on a farm overlooking the shores of Lough Ross in County Armagh, has been dismantled by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Officers from HMRC, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, searched the farm in the Crossmaglen area, where the laundering plant was uncovered in an agricultural shed on Thursday March 5.

The plant was estimated to be capable of producing over 7.5 million litres of illicit fuel a year and potentially evading around £4.3m in taxes and duty. Officers also found more than 4.5 tonnes of toxic waste at the site.

Storage tanks, pumps and other equipment used in the fuel laundering process, along with three vehicles, have been seized from the site. A 52-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the investigation and has been released on bail. Investigations are on-going.

Mike Parkinson, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Every illegal laundering operation typically generates tonnes of toxic waste, leading to significant safety and environmental issues. The location of this laundering plant, on a farm overlooking Lough Ross, raises concerns around the potential pollution risks involved.

“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. I would urge anyone with information on fuel misuse in their area to contact our free telephone hotline on 0800 595000 and contribute to the fight against this criminality.”