SPANISH newspapers have run headlines associating Gibraltar with the illegal movement of waste into Spain but a Guardia Civil report suggests this is just one of 43 countries involved.
Operation Tyson which was coordinated by Interpol has traced the dumping of 1.5 million tonnes of illegal waster across boundaries by criminals around the world.
More than 1,000 Guardia Civil officers and Tax Authority officials made a number of spot checks of operations in Spain as well as at the borders.
The Head of the Nature Protection Service (Seprona) was the main point of contact and national coordination with the INTERPOL authorities in the operation.
Two ships carrying 6,600 tonnes of metal waste were detected with much of it being discharged into the sea without any safety measures.
Unrecorded ground plastic material was found in another vessel sailing from Dakar (Senegal) carrying waste without authorisation or knowledge of its origin and composition.
One company was discovered to be storing 136,000 litres of used vegetable oil and 32,000 litres of wastewater without details of their origin and without formal authorisation.
Three Spaniards have been arrested for alleged trans boundary movement of waste from Gibraltar to the town of Medina Sidonia in Cadiz province.
All those detained and investigated in this operation face imprisonment of between six months to five years if found guilty and offenders must repair the environmental damage caused.
Interpol’s estimates point to crime against the environment as one of the fastest growing problems on the international scene, mainly because of the widespread economic benefit of specialised criminal networks operating in this area.
Spain does have a large waste removal business and also imports and exports waste but there are always those who will fly tip and create illegal land fill sites without taking notice of the law.
Currently most of the imported waste comes EU but there is also regular import and disposal from the USA, Israel, Argentina, Colombia, Honduras, Uruguay and Oman.