Transnational crime syndicate uses maritime containers to ship illegal waste

Authorities have dismantled an organized crime group for illegally moving maritime containers of hazardous waste from the Canary Islands to several countries in Africa.

An organized crime group has been dismantled by the Spanish Civil Guard SEPRONA, with the support of Europol and the Italian Carabinieri for illegally moving maritime containers of hazardous waste from the Canary Islands to several countries in Africa.

Those arrested are also suspected of document fraud to carry out their illegal activities.  Europol’s support was key to cracking the case given the different nationalities of the suspects. 

In 2018 and 2019, the network shipped goods 138 times from the Port of Tenerife (Canary Islands) to several countries in Africa. The total amount of hazardous waste illegally shipped during that period is estimated to be around 2,500,000 kg, over 750, 000 kg of which was waste from electrical and electronic equipment.

The criminals loaded the maritime containers with second-hand items, such as vehicle parts, household goods, and a huge amount of electrical waste and electronic equipment.

The investigation carried out by the Spanish officers concluded that the unwanted electronics were shipped to several countries in Africa to be sold on to buyers there. The items sold were all obsolete and were not fit for use as the criminal network had primarily sourced the equipment from rubbish bins and on the street.

One Italian woman was arrested while preparing the necessary customs clearance documents for the customs agency. The documents found included falsified certificates of the electrical devices. 

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Lee Kok Leong

Lee Kok Leong

Kok Leong, executive editor, has overall editorial responsibility for the direction and focus of Maritime Fairtrade. He has two decades of working experiences, including holding senior regional roles in business-to-business (B2B) print and online publications. He enjoys his work as a journalist, and regards it as a calling.

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