An investigation involving more than 300 personnel from An Garda Síochána and various other agencies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, took place this morning in a huge cross-border operation against illegal fuel laundering and organised crime.
The Criminal Assets Bureau is currently leading a multi agency investigation into the profits being generated from the illegal fuel trade and in particular the suspected involvement of an organised crime group based in Co. Louth.
The investigation is being conducted jointly with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and Her Majesties Revenue Customs (HMRC).
The Bureau commenced a search operation this morning, Wednesday March 13, at various locations connected to the current investigation and in particular the addresses and business premises of key members of the organised criminal group involved in this illegal activity.
There were a total of 19 premises searched this morning in Louth, Monaghan, Dublin, Kildare, Waterford, Offaly, Roscommon, Westmeath, Meath and Tipperary.
The searches involved 7 dwellings, 10 businesses and 2 warehouse/outhouses.
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 agencies involved in the search operation are the Criminal Assets 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 search operation is being conducted in conjunction with other simultaneous searches being conducted by the HMRC, Northern Ireland who are supported by the PSNI specialist teams at locations close to the Border in Northern Ireland.