A large transnational joint police operation involving more than 2500 law enforcement officers from 14 EU countries has resulted in the seizure of 11 tonnes of illegally-disposed waste.
As part of the operation, 678 sites, over 1400 waste transporters and around 2200 individuals were checked, 95 of whom were reported to the respective judicial authorities. From more than 1900 vehicles that were stopped, 13 were seized for violations linked to waste trafficking. As a result, more than 58 investigations will be launched by the national authorities and will be supported by Europol.
Italian authorities led the operation, with the support of Europol and authorities in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
The operation, which was a flagship activity of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU, was carried out by police forces, customs and agencies involved in the fight against environmental crime. Thirty-seven different agencies targeted the waste cycle by checking and examining both waste transporters and waste producers (incinerators, landfills, quarries, mines, construction and petrochemical sites, road builders, vehicle breakers). The end result was the seizure of approximately 11 tonnes of waste of 150 different types. Italy has developed extensive experience in this field, capitalising on the numerous investigations they have carried out on mafia-type organised crime groups that often dominate this crime area.
The most common modus operandi discovered during the operation was the forgery of documents accompanying waste in transit. Illicit waste is commonly transported with documents stating non-dangerous or different materials. Several samples of waste were therefore taken during the operation for chemical analysis and comparison with the official supporting documentation.
Europol provided the platform to exchange all information generated from the operation and hosted an expert from Italy who coordinated activities from the Italian Liaison Bureau at Europol premises in The Hague. The operation took place from 24-28 November 2014, with resulting data processing and analysis concluded this week. Europol continues to provide support to help assess the impact of organised crime in this area.