Several groups dedicated to the illegal export of hazardous waste to third countries dismantled

The waste was sent to countries where conditions allowed higher income, at the cost of causing serious damage to the ecosystem

11 people have been arrested / investigated for their involvement in the illegal traffic of hazardous waste

It is estimated that this illegal business moves up to 17,000 million euros annually

The Civil Guard and the General Sub-Directorate of Circular Economy of MITERD, within the framework of the DENAY operation, has dismantled several groups dedicated to the illegal exploitation of hazardous waste in third countries proceeding to arrest / investigate 11 people, and neutralize several hazardous waste streams to countries with developing economies.

This operation, developed in the provinces of Álava, Vizcaya, Salamanca, Valencia and Madrid, has focused the objective on several companies that systematically collected and sent hazardous waste to countries where the treatment, either due to the lack of measures environmental protection, or cheap labor, generated many more benefits. It is estimated that this illegal business moves up to 17,000 million euros annually.

The organization was in charge of acquiring the waste in Spain, looking for clients in third countries such as Libya, Iraq, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, etc. and bypassing the administration's control, even using exit ports in France and Portugal.

Waste fan

The operation has been able to identify various flows to different parts of the world, depending on the type of waste.
Similarly, it has been discovered that the companies involved were sending industrial solvents in large quantities to be disposed of in Libya. Apparently, these components were dumped into the environment without any control, which greatly reduced costs, even despite the fact that the producer of the waste had already paid for its management.
Collaboration with the French authorities alerted the Spanish authorities, who initiated an investigation that made it possible to identify those responsible for the network. Likewise, it was possible to verify the identification of the companies that were dedicated to sending car and truck engines to Iraq.

Profit obtained

The benefit consisted of extracting the useful part of these motors, or the recyclable materials, and disposing of the rest without any type of recycling management. The lack of control in some countries means that illegal companies send any type of waste without any consideration, as is the case of engines at the end of their useful life. The danger of this type of waste is summarized in that, simply by spilling the liquids contained in these engines, it can cause a degradation of the soil, and the contamination of the aquifers in the area.
From here on, a new line of investigation was revealed as some managers sent trucks cut apart to African countries such as Ghana or Guinea Bissau. The illicit consisted of avoiding administration controls, so as not to pay the costs of these exports. The lack of control in these African countries allowed free trade in these goods, which could later be relocated and put into circulation, or recovered, by dumping or leaving the surplus in the middle.
In Spain, given the established procedures, the elimination of this waste is expensive, and this allows the emission or discharge to the environment to be practically nil. The moment costs are reduced to increase profit, substantial damage to the environment begins to occur.
In total, 11 people have been arrested and investigated, not only Spanish but also of Syrian, Portuguese, Gambian and Dutch nationalities.

International Collaboration

The operation has been coordinated by Europol, and has been in collaboration with the French and Portuguese authorities.
On the other hand, in Spain we have had the help of the General Sub-Directorate for Circular Economy of MITERD for the analysis of cross-border documentation.


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