Eco-Mafia 'Cashing In On Waste'
The “Dirty” Business Of The Environmental Un-Friendly Mafia
The crimes against the environment and national cultural heritage are worth 14,255 million euros (in 2001). The Italian Mafia, with its international connections, is on the front line in this business that covers waste disposal of polluting substances; smuggling of animals, antiques and art pieces; and illegal house building.
With highly sophisticated covert operations, this new mafia manages to smuggle dangerous waste, antiques and art pieces and species in danger of extinction, from and to all-over the world through Italy.
In Italy there are 151 Mafia “Clans” (gangs/groups) that deal with such crimes Since the phenomenon is so wide spread, the Italian police forces have created a highly developed task force specialized in environmental/ecological/heritage crimes - that operates at an international level like the anti-drug squad. The police called the phenomenon and the criminal organizations "Eco-Mafia". This mafia belongs to different branches of the traditional Mafia.
Mafia’s illegal waste trafficking run companies dealing with about 35 million tons of refuse a year. Companies in western countries prefer to export their waste to avoid expensive government anti-pollution tax and the financial burden of building environmentally friendly plants. It is illegal, but the Mafia does not care, it is a good business - per boat loaded with illegal waste. The illegal disposal of polluting substances (from radioactive ones to dangerous chemicals) is a business worth 2 billion euros per year. This rubbish (11.6 million tons) comes from Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Korea, Taiwan and the US and, if not very dangerous is disposed in the South of Italy, where the mafia has greater control of the territory and authorities than in the North. Burying it in a field or throwing in a river is an easy game for the well-rooted local Mafiosi. But much of the more dangerous (radioactive) waste is sent to developing countries in Africa, such as Somalia, Malawi, Zaire, Sudan, Algeria and Magreb for disposal.
One third of the Eco-Mafia turnover comes from the smuggling of endangered animal species. It is an old business for the Mafia, but recently it has developed its activities. The Italian mafia can be considered the responsible for the spread of mad cow disease in Italy (and in Europe), by smuggling infected meat and animal food. The un-sold British cattle, beef and animal meal banned by the EU, have reached Italy, and most of other countries, thanks to the mafia. Once abroad the British beef or cows become Italian by magic and are recycled in a legal food chain.
Moreover the mafia is in charge of the disposal of all the illegal animal meal for farming. And some farmers are happy to pay to have their mad cows disappear before being caught by the authorities.