At least one premises in Offaly has been searched as part of a major 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 Criminal Assets Bureau is leading the investigation which is being conducted jointly with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and Her Majesties Revenue Customs (HMRC)
The Bureau has this morning commenced a search operation 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.
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 search operation is being conducted in conjunction with other simultaneous searches being conducted by Her Majesties Revenue Customs (HMRC), Northern Ireland who are supported by the PSNI specialist teams at locations close to the Border in Northern Ireland.
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 searches, 19 in total, were 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, ten businesses and two warehouse/outhouses.