A MASSIVE mobile fuel-laundering operation was raided by the Revenue authorities and armed gardai in the early hours of this morning.
Two mobile plants were targeted by the authorities in simultaneous operations at Ravensdale Park, in Co Louth, close to the Border.
The plants were near to each other and part of the same operation.
It was estimated that the equipment was capable of producing up to 15 million litres of fuel at a potential loss to the exchequer of €8m a year.
The first mobile laundry, which was processing fuel when uncovered, was concealed in a curtain-sided lorry on commercial premises.
The mobile laundry, four lorries, one of which had a concealed tank for transporting fuel, three oil tankers, 28,000 litres of fuel and ancillary equipment were seized by Revenue's Customs Service.
Three tonnes of toxic waste were also uncovered by officials at the scene.
In a connected search of a private residence adjoining the yard, a slurry tank that had been adapted for use as a mobile oil laundry was uncovered.
Around 100 bags of bleaching earth for use in the laundering process and 6,000 litres of fuel were seized.
Six vehicles, including three cars, two jeeps and a van at the site were detained for further enquiries.
A senior Revenue spokesman at the scene said it was “the biggest ever fuel doctoring operation discovered along the Border”.
He said the loss to the Republic’s economy from the distribution of the laundered fuel was enormous.
The location of the illegal plant was less than a mile from the South Armagh Border.
Gardai later questioned a number of men in the local area about the early-morning raid.