Network that sent 16,000 tonnes of contaminated plastics to Asia falls – CVBJ



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The Civil Guard, as part of Operation PINDAAN, has dismantled a criminal organization who dedicated himself to irregular movement of plastic waste to Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, among other Asian countries. I know investigated 27 people who formed a network deployed in Spain to organize illegal shipments, among which they found 16,000 tons of this waste without depollution and for which 15 million euros were pocketed.

The leadership of this organization was established in Malaysia and Singapore. The objectives studied are part of the international network that controlled this activity, deploying people in our country for the purchase of plastics and subsequent shipment to Asia.

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Untreated plastics that can end up in the ocean

In 2019, the Malaysian government returned to Spain 5 freight transport containers loaded with plastic waste contaminated with toxic products coming from intensive farming. After testing the plastics residues of phytosanitary products were detected.

As Captain Carlos Astrain of the Central Operational Unit for the Environment (UCOMA) at Seprona explained, the contents did not match the declared cargo, according to officials there, concerned that Malaysia had become the one of the main ports. discharge of polluting plastic waste.

But not only did containers with this waste from Spain arrive in Malaysia, but other countries like Cambodia and Thailand have also become a destination for this commodity after China banned the import of non-plastic waste. recyclable at the end of 2018.

The captain explains that in general, it was undecontaminated plastic waste and, consequently, that they contained the rest of the toxic phytosanitary products because most of them came from intensive agriculture, that is to say from greenhouses. As explained by Seprona, Most of the plastics contaminated with this type of toxin came from the region of eastern Spain, including the region of Murcia.

This unused material inevitably became waste, which most of the time, they end up in illegal landfills, oceans and rivers.

Plastics ban in China since 2018

Following the 2018 Chinese plastic waste import ban, companies have moved to other Asian countries, where they are received as a preliminary step to products that ultimately end up in the Asian giant. The different materials that arrive in these countries are treated in illegal facilities, many of which have already been dismantled, then exported in turn to China as the final destination of the recovered raw material.

In the surveyed shipments alone, 16,000 tonnes of plastics could have been moved, mainly from the Valencian Community, Murcia, Almería, to a lesser extent in Catalonia and more residual in Extremadura and León.

Astrain emphasizes that these plastics arrive without decontamination and were used as raw material. And as raw material, they were declared to customs.

As the captain explains, These plastics are valued for their toughness and high density, but they require an expensive decontamination process that saves money.

By avoiding declaring it as waste, the organization avoided all kinds of prior notifications, authorizations and other red tape for plastics which, already in Asia, were often turned into waste and ended up in illegal landfills in the ocean or the rivers.

UCOMA agents analyzed the commercial and banking information of the people surveyed with the help of Interpol and verified the link between the organization in Spain and the person in charge of this entire network, who was in Singapore.

Thus, the Civil Guard verified the “ad hoc” deployment in our country of the network whose mission was to acquire plastics and send them, while channeling the money from Singapore to customers in Spain, in a continuous transfer of foreign currency.

Plastic-free environment

Those investigated are charged with crimes against natural resources and the environment, illegal transfer of waste and membership of a criminal organization.

The various regulations of the European Union establish procedures and control regimes for the shipment of waste between Member States and with third countries, depending on the origin, destination and route of the shipment, the type of waste transferred and the type of treatment to be applied to the waste. to destination. The objective of this regulation is organize and regulate the monitoring and control of waste shipments in a manner which takes into account the need to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment and human health.

The Civil Guard, once again, combats environmental crime at its source.


The investigation, led by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the Environment and Town Planning, was carried out by SEPRONA agents from the Civil Guard.

He also counted on the collaboration of EUROPOL and INTERPOL in the analysis of communications and in the strategic analysis of documentation to find possible relations with other countries, currency movements and information on expeditions; as well as with the collaboration of the General Sub-Directorate of Circular Economy of MITERD (Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge) in joint work teams aiming to study the illegality of shipments.


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