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Fuel's gold Major Garda probe after huge fire and explosion at fuel laundering hub in Monaghan

Officers are still investigating the cause of the fire which led to the explosion at the site in Castleshane, Co Monaghan, shortly after 11pm last Saturday.

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Garda Armed Support Unit

Garda Armed Support Unit

Garda Armed Support Unit

THE Garda Armed Support Unit has backed up Revenue officers in a number of searches this week after an explosion at a suspected major fuel laundering facility.

Officers are still investigating the cause of the fire which led to the explosion at the site in Castleshane, Co Monaghan, shortly after 11pm last Saturday.

The suspected operator of the “very large” illegal fuel laundering plant is understood to have been involved in this lucrative crime for many years along with some of his closest associates.

“This is a very lucrative criminal activity worth millions of euro which can also lead to serious environmental damage because of sludge dumps,” a source said.

“It was a big operation – there were at least six large containers of fuel which went up which would be more than most at these sites,” the source added.

There have been no arrests so far in the investigation which is being led by Monaghan gardaí.

The scene remained sealed off for a number of days, and environmental experts were called to the locality to examine whether the fire caused pollution.

“Gardaí and emergency services attended the scene of a fire that occurred at a premises in Castleshane, Co Monaghan at approximately 11:05pm on Saturday, 21st August 2021,” a Garda spokesman said.

“No injuries were reported as a result of this incident. Investigations are currently ongoing at this time,” he added.

The location of the incident is close to the border with Co Armagh and gardaí as well as the PSNI have been monitoring a number of cross-border gangs who have been involved in fuel laundering and smuggling for decades.

One of these was led by Ronan Hughes (42) who is currently serving 20 years in an English prison after he admitted plotting to people smuggle and 39 counts of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants who suffered an "excruciating" death in an airtight trailer in Essex in October 2019.

Last December at a location very close to Saturday night’s explosion, a fuel laundering plant was uncovered in an operation carried out by customs officers operating under the cross-border Joint Agency Task Force (JATF).

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During the course of last December’s operation, a distillation plant for laundering marked mineral oil was discovered as well as 33,000 litres of mineral oil, a lorry with an 18,000 litre oil tank, a generator, pumps, hoses and a filtering system and 10,000 litres of mineral oil sludge, which is by-product of the laundering process.

Some of the main nationwide targets for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) are fuel laundering gangs based in border counties such as Monaghan and Louth.

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