Trash is gold
For many years people have been aware of the Mafia’s interests and activities in waste management but their involvement in ecological crimes, as the “Ecomafia,” is less well-known.
Ecological crime is a complex, sprawling activity, spanning everything from illicit logging and illegal fishing, to carbon credit fraud and toxic-waste dumping. The increase in the amount of hazardous waste produced over recent years, combined with tougher laws regulating processing, has created a lucrative market for illicit trafficking and this has been exploited by powerful and ruthless criminal organizations—the “ecomafia.
These organized criminal groups have infiltrated the waste management industry, and have been profiting by illegally disposing of hazardous waste in our community. They bribe officials and pay off politicians to turn a blind eye to their illegal activities, and use intimidation and violence to silence anyone who opposes them.
The ecomafia’s illegal waste disposal operations have a devastating impact on communities. Hazardous waste, including chemicals, batteries, and electronic waste, is dumped in residential neighborhoods, parks, and even near schools and daycare centers. This not only poses a serious risk to human health, but also harms the environment and wildlife.
These illegal activities also have a severe economic impact. They underbid legitimate waste management companies, putting them out of business and hurting local economies. They also cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year, as the government is forced to clean up the mess left behind by these criminal organizations.
Law enforcement agencies are increasing their efforts to crack down on these criminal organizations and bring them to justice, but elected officials also need to take a stand against corruption and ensure that those who profit from illegal waste disposal are held accountable. Unfortunately, many times the local politicians are persuaded to turn a blind eye to the devastation caused by illegal dumping.
Who is behind the ecomafia?
It is difficult to say exactly who runs the ecomafia, as organized crime groups are secretive and operate in the shadows. However, it is known that the ecomafia is made up of a network of individuals and groups, including organized crime syndicates, corrupt business owners, and corrupt government officials.
Organized crime syndicates, such as the Mafia and other criminal organizations, are often involved in the illegal waste disposal industry as a way to generate profits through illegal activities. These criminal groups may control the transportation and disposal of waste, as well as bribe officials and pay off politicians.
Corrupt business owners are involved in the ecomafia. These individuals may operate legitimate waste management businesses, but also engage in illegal activities such as illegal dumping or the disposal of hazardous waste. They may also be involved in the bribery of officials and politicians.
Unscrupulous government officials and politicians also are also an integral part of the ecomafia. These individuals may be bribed or coerced by the ecomafia to overlook illegal activities, or may even be involved in the illegal waste disposal industry themselves. They may also be involved in the process of awarding contracts to waste management companies, giving preference to those with ties to the ecomafia.
There is some hope for the future: the Basel Action Network, based in Seattle, focuses on the export of toxic waste and polluting technologies to the developing world. And the Environmental Investigation Agency, with office in London and Washington, D.C., often works undercover to expose illegal activities, and tackles a wide range of environmental crimes.
These efforts are starting to pay off: chemical waste trafficking to Africa has gradually decreased and, in the USA and Europe, the adoption of advanced technology such as ground-penetrating radar is now being used to pinpoint toxic dumps without digging into the soil, thus avoiding the danger of potentially disturbing toxins that can pollute the air or groundwater.
But even with these advances, as ecological crimes become more lucrative, the involvement of organized crime is only likely to increase.