A report by Europol has said that the Mafia and other organised crime groups are getting involved in illegal trafficking of waste.
But a lack of knowledge by police forces and intelligence agencies is preventing prosecution of those involved in activities such as illicit trade in hazardous waste and WEEE.
The report EU Organised Crime Threat Assessment by Europol, which is the European law enforcement agency, says: “Driven by perceptions of low risk and high profit, indications have emerged of this criminal activity attracting the greater interest of organised crime groups.
“Groups specialising in money laundering, financial crime, thefts and drug trafficking in Member States are now engaged in environmental crime as well. In general, however, substantial intelligence gaps preclude comprehensive assessment of organised crime activity in this area.”
It states that large scaled organised crime bodies have the resources to engage in large scale illegal waste management, but there is also evidence of lower level groups being engaged in the illicit harvesting of hazardous waste such as used mobile phone and car batteries.
The report notes that legitimate businesses are often working with organised crime groups, probably without realising it, due to forged documentation. Those most affected are likely to be financial services, import/export companies and metal recyclers.
A lack of harmonisation between Member States on what they define as WEEE and second hand goods, as well as deregistered vehicles, has also aided illegal shipment to non-OECD and other states.
Italy is noted as a transit point for WEEE shipment to Africa and Asia for southern Europe, while north west European ports are being used by the organised criminals to export toxic waste, WEEE and deregistered vehicles to west Africa.