Gang Arrested in Spain’s Canary Islands for Shipping Hazardous Waste to Africa

Just some of the waste awaiting shipment Credit: Guardia Civil/Europol

SEPRONA, the nature service of the Guardia Civil on Tenerife in the Canary Islands has arrested 34 people suspected of illegally exporting hazardous waste to a number of different African countries.

Fronted by an Italian woman who allegedly forged documents stating that the goods were second-hand but in working order, she obtained genuine export documents which allowed the gang to fill containers with a selection of motor vehicles, vehicle parts, household goods, used electrical and electronic equipment.

The material was either found discarded in rubbish tips or purchased cheaply at flea markets and was sold in Africa for scrap where it was stripped of anything of worth with whatever was left over being simply discarded.


When viewing the Italian woman’s records, it appears that in 2018 and 2019 alone, some 2,460 tons of waste were shipped, of which 740 tons were electronic equipment including refrigerators which release toxic gasses if not disposed of properly.

Many African countries have far less stringent laws concerning disposal of dangerous waste material and it was found that goods had been delivered to Senegal, Ghana, Gambia, Togo, Benin, Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone with the bulk going to Nigeria.


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