25 May 2006

Raids help smash £500,000 racket in illegal fuel

Belfast Telegraph

25 May 2006

Northern Ireland customs officials and the PSNI have smashed an illegal nationwide fuel-laundering ring estimated to be worth £500,000.

The joint seven-month undercover operation between HM Revenue and Customs and police was carried out on 11 premises in Northern Ireland, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Luton and London.

Yesterday police arrested one man in Hertfordshire in connection to the ring and seized two petrol tankers, dismantled a fuel laundering plant in Bedfordshire, closed a retail fuel outlet in Paddington and seized storage tanks and around 30,000 litres of laundered fuel.

HM Revenue and Customs spokesman Jim Caldwell praised the joint operation saying the organisation estimated the fuel laundering activities cost the government about £500,000 in excise duty.

"The success of this operation is a result of our determined efforts, along with our partners in police forces around the UK, to disrupt and dismantle the illegal supply of fuel," he said. "Organised crime has a detrimental and harmful effect on all our communities as well as a damaging impact on our environment.

"We would urge anyone with information on fuel misuse or suspicious activities to contact us in confidence straight away."

It is understood laundered fuel was being sold to unsuspecting members of public at what appeared to be a legitimate petrol station in Paddington, London.

HMRC estimates for every 10,000 litres of fuel laundered a tonne of toxic waste is produced and indiscriminately dumped in the countryside.

While one arrest has been made police have said they were continuing inquiries and expect to make further arrests over the coming weeks.

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