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Illegal waste disposal group disbanded



The Guardia Civil, within the framework of operation “Poubelle”, has arrested or investigated 19 people and six legal entities belonging to an international criminal organisation dedicated to the illicit trafficking of dangerous waste of urban origin.

They are accused of several crimes of belonging to a criminal organisation, against natural resources and the environment, and document falsification.

The investigations began as a result of international collaboration, in the control of waste at the border, when an unusual transit of trucks loaded with urban waste from Europe destined for Spanish companies was detected. Initial investigations made it possible to identify a series of interrelated companies established between the south of France and the Communities of Catalonia and Aragon, which traded at large levels with waste from Europe.

It was verified that dozens of trucks entered the waste management facilities controlled by the organisation, but that, instead of subjecting the cargo to recovery processes, it was redirected directly to a landfill in Zaragoza.

Once the complete plot was identified, it was verified how international contracts were carried out for the management of urban waste, offering prices well below the market value. It is estimated that the criminal organisation would have earned more than 16 million euro since 2020.

These practices contravene legislation and environmental control systems whose spirit lies in the principle of proximity and that everyone takes responsibility for their waste. Thus, Spain cannot accept the entry of this type of waste for disposal in landfills. Therefore, the procedure consisted of interposing a series of companies between the producer and the Spanish landfill, which simulated different treatments and operations never carried out, so that, at least at a documentary level, it seemed that everything was done in accordance with current legislation.

The result is that tons of waste of all kinds were buried daily in Zaragoza, including dangerous and toxic waste, coming from Europe, all at the cost of almost irreparable damage to the ecosystems and the health of the surrounding populations.

Six entries and searches have been carried out in the homes and headquarters of legal entities in the towns of Fraga (Huesca), Terrassa (Barcelona) and Alcañiz (Teruel) in which 10 mobile phones, six hard drives, four laptop computers, nine pen drives, three memory cards, various documentation, 24,870 euro in cash and the databases and emails of the legal entities investigated, as well as those detained, have been seized. An illegal landfill in the town of Seròs (Lleida) and two trucks for transporting waste have also been inspected.

The judicial authority has ordered the entry into the penitentiary of two of the detained people, leaders of the criminal network in Spain, in addition to the blocking of five real estate properties and 15 personal property (four cars, five motorcycles and six heavy machines for waste treatment). Likewise, they have located up to 34 bank accounts used to house and reconvert illicit profits.

In May 2021, the Council of the European Union adopted the priorities for combating serious and organised crime during the 2022-2025 EMPACT cycle. In total, ten priorities were adopted, among which is that of crimes against the environment and, as an objective, that of dismantling criminal networks involved in all forms of crimes against the environment, focusing especially on waste trafficking and wild flora and fauna, as well as criminal networks and business people with the capacity to infiltrate high-level legal business structures or to create their own companies in order to facilitate their crimes.

This type of crime grows at a rate between 5% and 7% annually, making it the fourth most important criminal activity in the world, after drug trafficking, human trafficking and counterfeiting.

Recent studies estimate that the annual revenue derived solely from the illicit waste market in the EU is between €4 billion and €15 billion and that, despite the damage they cause, offenders run little risk of being detected, and the risk of being subjected to trials and sanctions.

The operation has been directed by the Court of Instruction No. 1 of Fraga (Huesca), coordinated jointly by the Central Operational Unit for the Environment (UCOMA) of the Headquarters of the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Guardia Civil supported by Europol.

The central and Barcelona cynological service, the USECIC of Zaragoza, the EDITE of Huesca, traffic of Zaragoza and the Uprona of Barcelona have also participated.

The post Illegal waste disposal group disbanded appeared first on Spain Today – Breaking Spanish News, Sport, and Information.



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