For the first time in Devon a mobile fuel laundering plant, concealed in a transit van, has been seized and removed by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The transit van contained equipment for laundering red diesel, including storage tanks, cat litter for filtering and a pump powered by a car battery.
The laundering plant near Chudleigh was capable of producing approx 75,000 litres of illegal fuel a year with a loss to the Treasury of approximately £52,000.
Laundered fuel is normally red diesel which has been filtered through chemicals or acids to remove the government marker.
The chemicals and acids remain in the fuel and damage fuel pumps in diesel cars Red diesel is marked gas oil or a rebated fuel for use in agricultural machinery and not for use in road vehicles.
Bob Gaiger, Devon spokesman for HMRC said: "HMRC takes the dangerous and illegal practice of laundering, storing and selling illicit fuel very seriously.
"The fuels stored and sold from this van were unsafe and the dangers they pose to anyone in the vicinity show a total disregard for public safety.
"Any motorist using illegal road fuel runs the risk of damaging their engine and having their vehicles seized. "So filling up with fuel that is being sold at a cheap price could in fact cost more in the long run."
This fraud could be happening near you, with the profits from it funding other criminal activity.
Making one phone call to our Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 could help to stamp it out.
Officers from HMRC and Devon and Cornwall Police discovered the transit van parked near Chudleigh in Devon.
As officers approached the vehicle they found a 25 litre drum full of red diesel on one side of the vehicle and on the other a second drum containing laundered fuel with the red dye removed.
The estimated duty loss to the public purse is £52,000.
Investigations are ongoing.