Illegal hazardous waste distribution network shut down

The Guardia Civil, within the framework of the INJINI operation, has dismantled a criminal organisation dedicated to the illegal trafficking of hazardous waste. The activity was carried out in an Authorised Centre for the Treatment of vehicles at the end of their useful life (CAT), located in the Community of Madrid, and used a network of companies linked to the management of this type of vehicle, mainly motorcycles and mopeds, distributed throughout several Spanish provinces, to illegally export them, as second-hand vehicles, to various African countries, as well as Italy, Portugal and Poland.

This company would acquire deregistered vehicles, specifically motorcycles and mopeds, which were considered hazardous waste, but instead of decontaminating and selling them for parts, they were exported as second-hand vehicles, mainly to countries in Africa, but also to Italy, Portugal or Poland and, on a lesser scale, to individuals from different parts of Spain. They were transported complete, and declared as second-hand effects, thus avoiding export prohibitions for hazardous waste.

The vehicles were purchased as scrap at a very low price, and sold without undergoing any type of treatment as second-hand vehicles, which considerably increased the profit margin. In addition, these services were not declared as part of the legal activity of the company, which existed, thus defrauding the public treasury and managing to increase profits.

The company has also been investigated for a crime against the right of workers, since part of the workforce were operators, without a labour contract. Most of the payments were made in cash and without invoices. In addition, they had stored a large number of hazardous waste in parcels without authorisation that exceeded the maximum time allowed for this type of storage.

This irregular practice would have generated a high level of profit for the members of the organisation, who enjoyed a high standard of living and had acquired numerous movable and immovable assets, opening investment funds and high-end vehicles, in addition to being used for the social capital in the constitution of other legal persons that swelled the corporate framework. Assets worth 5 million euro have been identified, which is currently under judicial control.

It had a perfectly organised and hierarchical criminal structure, at the top of which were two company administrators, who were responsible for directing, coordinating and planning all irregular activities.

Under his orders were two other people dedicated to administrative and collection tasks. His work was essential, due to the high number of vehicles that had entry into the CAT, to register, structure and account for the different items. It has been verified how there were two accounts, one official and the other hidden, the latter used to derive benefits without contributing to the taxes required by tax regulations.

A third step, also within the company, was made up of 10 operators who carried out the work of handling the waste, removing the chassis numbers and the registration plates of the motorcycles, so that they could not be related to the CAT after its use. sale, nor with its corresponding Certificate of Destruction, since some of the motorcycles even came from theft.

Finally, a series of clients and transporters were in charge of the illegal acquisition and transfer of these vehicles and a network of suppliers, who would have contributed almost 300 tons of motorcycles and mopeds at the end of their useful life to the central nucleus (some of them belonging to the Security Forces and Corps) without treatment and without authorisation, nor complying with the obligatory procedures.

In addition to the environmental aspect, this type of criminal activity also seeks to evade tax payments for services provided and sales made. In turn, they are associated with structures whose objective is the laundering of illegal assets obtained.

The investigation has resulted in the arrest of 25 natural persons and the investigation of another 5 legal entities and in the associated economic investigation, it has been verified that, only in the time that the investigation has elapsed, the criminal network would have obtained an illicit benefit from more than half a million euro.

In the various searches, considerable documentary and computer material has been intervened to analyse, close to 4,000 euro in cash and a machine to count bills, as well as various weapons and ammunition.

The detainees are accused of various crimes against natural resources and the environment, belonging to a criminal organisation, money laundering, document falsification, against the rights of workers, against the Public Treasury and against Social Security, among others.

The corporate purpose of the CATs is the correct management of waste in order to generate the least possible risk to water, air, soil, flora and fauna, which implies costs that will subsequently be borne by the sale of the elements, by pieces, valued. The incorrect or non-existent management of these vehicles reduced waste management expenses and reported a fraudulent profit.