POLICE have made 42 arrests for trafficking stolen waste in Madrid.
The criminal group is suspected of stealing waste and trafficking it from Spain to Asia.
The Guardia Civil led the investigation supported by Europol and the Fiscalía de Medio Ambiente y Urbanismo, cracking down on the large criminal network involved in environmental crime and money laundering.
The illegal activity is believed to have generated around a €16 million loss for the municipality of Madrid.
The investigation focused on a company, based in Madrid, which specialised in waste management.
Since 2015, the company was organising the illegal collection of paper and cardboard in the city.
This waste was then mixed with legally collected waste, in breach of the EU regulatory framework, before being shipped to places including China, India, Indonesia and South Korea.
The investigation uncovered 9,300 tonnes of paper worth €2.3 million.
Also discovered were 278 illegal shipments with 67,000 tonnes of waste worth €10 million.
The Spanish authorities seized 11 lorries used by the network for stealing waste from municipal containers.
The operation, named ‘Hartie’, led to the arrests of 42 individuals suspected of being part of the criminal network.
EU regulation establishes a strict procedure for the transport of waste from one member state to another and to countries outside of the EU.
The surveillance and control of such shipments ensure the preservation of the environment.