Illegal Dumping

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  1. Profit from Illegally Dumping Waste:$11 Billion

Illegal Dumping

News and information about illegal waste dumping. Statistics about waste smuggling and unauthorized dumping is collected from environmental protection agencies and criminal justice programs.

Security agencies in China confiscated 976,500 metric tons of illegal waste materials that was in the process of being smuggled, according to the Customs Department. The amount of waste material seized in 2013 was 150 percent higher than in 2012.

The illegal waste was intercepted over the course of 221 cases, a threefold increase from the number of cases in 2012.

The solid waste materials that were caught included both recyclable and non-recyclable materials, such as discarded steel and iron, coal slag, chemicals and electronic waste, building materials and medical waste.

Security officials stated that most of the waste was being imported into China from foreign countries such as the United States, Europe and Japan. The waste is smuggled into China through large shipping containers, which are not properly declared on customs forms.

Source:  Zhang Yan, “Solid waste smuggling sees threefold rise,” China Daily, May 27, 2014.

According to research organization Demoskopika in Italy, the mafia syndicate ‘Ndrangheta collected $73 Billion (€53 Billion) in revenue in 2013.

The various revenue streams for the syndicate is as follows:

Intelligence from criminal justice programs state that the ‘Ndragheta has around 400 key operatives working on its behalf in 30 countries. When including all people who conduct business on behalf of the group, then the number of people working for ‘Ndragheta is estimated to be as high as 60,000.

Source:  AFP, “‘Ndrangheta mafia ‘made more last year than McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank’,” Guardian, March 26, 2014.

From 1990 to 2012, over 10 million tons of waste is believed to have been collected by Mafia groups in Italy and burned at illegal trash sites, according to environmental group Legambiente.

Criminal justice programs in  Italy reported 82 investigations of the mafia and the arrest of over 900 members. 443 waste collection companies have were also investigated during this time.

In certain areas surrounding Naples where many illegal dumping sites are located, the cancer rates of its residents has increased by as much as 50 percent. 

(What is racketeering? Learn more about organized crime rackets.)

In addition to the health risks, industries in Italy are losing market share as customers become concerned about leakage from the trash dumping. The Mozzarella industry saw a drop of 30 percent in sales for November 2013 as a result from trash concerns, representing a loss of $27.5 Million.

In 2012, the Italian Mafia is estimated to have made $1.2 Billion from illegal waste dumping.

To legitimately dispose of trash costs about $826 per ton.

Source:  Silvia Marchetti, “The New Vesuvius Smothers Italy’s Prime Products,” Newsweek, January 1, 2014.


In towns surrounding the city of Naples in Italy, the cancer rate has increased by nearly 50 percent in the past two decades. Health care agencies and security services are attributing the rise in tumors to illegal toxic waste dumping activities conducted by the Mafia.

The Italian mafia won contracts to dispose of toxic waste, yet simply dumped the materials in illegal, unauthorized sites. According to released documents, millions of tons of nuclear waste from Germany was dumped on farms, lakes and caves near Naples.

The toxic materials infected the surrounding environment, causing cancer rates in increase. In the last two decades, the cancer rates for men in the region increased by 47 percent and increased 40 percent for women.

(Additional impact of organized crime today.)

Source:  David Harding, “Mafia’s dumping of toxic waste blamed for high cancer rates in Italy,” New York Daily News, November 3, 2013.

In 2012, environmental officials in England shut down 1,279 illegal waste dumping sites, roughly 25 sites each week.  One in twenty of the illegal waste dumps contain asbestos in the waste, and one in five illegal dumps contained chemicals, oil or fuel.

171 people were prosecuted for waste crimes in 2012.

The number of illegal dump sites closed by authorities in 2012 was up from the 759 that were shut down the year before.

Security officials estimate that illegal waste crime costs about $1.59 Billion (£1 Billion) to legitimate waste companies and tax revenue to the Treasury.

Source:  Fiona Harvey, “Waste crime crackdown shuts 25 illegal sites a week,” Guardian, October 13, 2013.

Public health programs in Vietnam identified over 200 cases of toxic waste materials being smuggled into the country in the past several years. The waste was imported along with scrap metals that were to be used as raw materials in production factories and exported.

In total, officials identified 325 tonnes of waste, 3,1500 tonnes of plastic scrap, 10,000 tones of steel and 6,200 tonnes of used lead-acid batteries.

Source:  “Toxic waste continues to flood into Viet Nam,” Viet Nam Bridge, September 6, 2013.

Due to an increase in landfill taxes in Scotland, organized crime groups have been providing illegal waste dumping services to companies.

According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a single illegal landfill can be filled with trash that causes the government to lose up to $1.3 Million (€1 Million) in tax revenue.

Between 2008 to 2012, 40 companies were convicted for illegal waste dumping in Scotland.

Source:  “Scotland: Crime and Illegal Landfills,” Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, July 3, 2013.

In the first half of 2013, environmental officials in Ireland recovered 400 tons of waste that was illegally dumped by organized crime groups in Ireland. The waste was used to create white fuel that was used by drivers, and included ingredients such as sulfuric acid, cat litter, charcoal, and sand.

In 2012, officials seized 445 tons throughout the entire year.

Law enforcement agencies across the country discovered 11 illegal oil and fuel producing plants in 2012. The fuel smuggling operations was estimated to have cost the government up to $130 Mill lion (€100 Million) in tax revenue.

Source:  Stephen Breen, “Smuggling gangs take us for fuels,” Irish Sun, July 15, 2013.

An estimated 8 million tons of e-waste is illegally smuggled and dumped in China each year. According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, most of the electrical and electronic waste is dumped in Guangdong Province. The waste is then recycled and sold to the manufacturing industry.

The estimated value of this black market in e-waste in the East Asia region is $3.75 Billion.

Source:  “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment,” UNODC, April 2013, Executive Summary, page ix.

As of March 2012, authorities found 1,175 illegal waste dumping sites in Britain and Whales. The biggest category of illegal waste that is dumped is  construction and demolition waste. Other types of waste that is illegally dumped included household goods and end-of-life vehicles (including the car’s batteries, oil, air conditioner and brake fluid.)

(Value of the World Black Market.)

An Environment Agency Intelligence Manager in Britain stated that on average, the cost to pay criminals to illegally dump materials is 50 percent less than paying a legitimate waste disposal company.

Source:  Jon Henley, “Waste crime: Britain’s war on illegal dumping,” Guardian, November 11, 2012.