THE gang operating a sophisticated diesel laundering plant uncovered by customs and gardaí in Meath yesterday were making a profit of close to €100,000 a week, according to informed sources.
Situated in two large sheds on a farm near Wilkinstown, the plant was raided at 8.30am in what was the culmination of an investigation by gardaí and customs.
Gardaí arrested four men who were on the premises at the time for an alleged breach of the Revenue Act and they were detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act at Navan and Kells Garda Stations.
They are aged between 30 and 50. One is from Meath, one from Louth and two are from the North.
Such plants are traditionally found closer to the border but recent high- profile raids on plants, particularly in Louth and Monaghan, have seen such operations being moved in the hope of avoiding detection.
“It is a trend we have seen in recent months. Late last year we raided two plants in Co Offaly,” said a customs source.
This plant was operating out of large sheds on a farm and was well laid-out and “up and running” when it was raided.
Two tankers were seized along with four other vehicles and a range of equipment, including bleaching earth used to remove the dye from the cheaper diesel. The tankers each hold 36,000 litres.
A spokesperson for the Revenue Commissioner estimates the plant had the capacity to launder 7.8 million litres a year with a potential loss to the Exchequer in unpaid taxes and duties of about €4m.