Mafia activity harming the environment

Organised crime in Italy is damaging the environment and is on the rise, according to a report issued by prominent eco-campaigners this week.

Italian environmental pressure group Legambiente compiles an annual report showing that Mafia groups circumvent strict legislation governing the disposal of waste, some of it toxic, and breach building regulations designed to protect the planet.

The report highlights how millions of tons of toxic waste is disappearing in Italy every year, and someone is making billions of euros from the racket.

Illegal building is also big business in Italy and environmentalists believe powerful Mafia clans are behind both shadowy industries.

Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, Camorra in Naples, the Puglia-based Sacra Corona and La ‘Ndreghetta Reggina of Calabria are all fingered by the report as key players in the illegal trade.

In 1999 the Italian government drew up new laws to attempt to curb the rise in ‘Ecomafia’ activity, with pollution and waste trafficking crimes carrying stiff sentences of up to ten years imprisonment and fines in the region of £100,000.

But Legambiente believes the money to be made from the illegal waste business is becoming increasingly attractive as legislation tightens and last year 194 Mafia groups were involved, up 25 from 2003.

By Sam Bond

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