Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trafficking in Toxic Waste

Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) make money both by trading in illegal commodities (e.g., drugs and endangered species) and by violating regulations related to legal forms of commerce (e.g., weapons sales using false end-user certificates). According to an informant, the Mafia is now making money by contracting for the disposal of toxic waste and illegally scuttling the ships that transport it.

Eighteen miles off the coast of Calabria in southwestern Italy, a robotic camera has photographed a sunken ship that appears to be loaded with toxic waste containers. The information told an Italian judge that the ship was one of three that he blew up as part of a Mafia scheme to profit from lucractive toxic waste disposal business.

If the waste aboard the ship proves to be radioactive, the Italian government has promised to search for up to 30 additional ships that may have been sunk by the Mafia in recent years. Greenpeace maintains a list of ships with suspect cargoes that says have disappeared off the coasts of Italy and Greece.