A Garda image of the fuel laundry operation raided.
A large quantity of cash was discovered at two locations which were searched as part of Operation Loft, which included Co Meath. A quantity of business records and computers were also seized and will be now subject to forensic examination by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Gardai describe the find as a significant laundry, with initial analysis indicating that it has a capability of laundering several hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel. This would result in a potential throughput of 10 million litres per annum and a consequential loss to the Exchequer of €5.5million. In excess of 40,000 litres of what is believed to be laundered fuel was found on the site as well as a over 150 bags of a product known as Bleaching Earth.
The agencies involved in the search operation are the Criminal Assets Bureau (all agencies that make up the Bureau), the Special Detective Unit of An Garda Síochána, as well as various uniform Garda units throughout the country and the Regional Support Unit, Northern Region and Revenue Customs personnel.
The search operation is also being supported by the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), The Garda Air Support Unit and the Air Corps, together with Garda Personnel from the Division of Louth.
The current focus of this investigation is to search for and seize evidence relating to the criminal activity and the assets suspected of deriving from same of the organised crime group.
Investigations conducted by CAB to date have identified significant funds being generated and laundered from the sale of laundered diesel (colour marker washed out) and stretched petrol (diluted with methanol). The profits generated from this illegal activity are significant as is the loss to the Irish Exchequer. This illegal activity has knock on effects on legitimate businesses as well as on unsuspecting customers who have very often experienced damage to the fuel system of their vehicles (from laundered diesel) or poor return per litre of petrol.
The objectives of the operation are to seize evidence of assets deriving from oil fraud and money laundering, seize and dismantle illegal oil operations, seize cash or other assets including vehicles used in the criminal activity and to freeze bank accounts.
The 19 searches conducted this morning in the Republic of Ireland are in Louth, Monaghan, Dublin, Kildare, Waterford, Offaly, Roscommon, Westmeath, Meath and Tipperary
Searches involved seven dwellings, 10 businesses and two warehouse/outhouses. This operation involved in excess of the 100 personnel from various agencies in Northern Ireland and involved in excess of 200 personnel from An Garda Síochána and other agencies in the Republic.