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A crime every 18 minutes and a turnover of €18 billion. The “ecomafias” know no crisis and do not get discouraged by the measures of the government, which introduced new and stricter penalties for those who willfully pollute our territory. The latest report of Legambiente is a punch in the stomach: in 2014 29,293 crimes were ascertained, approximately 80 per day, 7 billion more than 2013. A cancer that does not consume only the Land of Fire and Campania, but that extends from north to south, filling the country with toxic waste. We live in contaminated lands, breath unhealthy air, eat corrupted products. This dramatic reality was described by the report, produced with the contribution of COBAT and published by Marotta and Cafiero. The agribusiness sector is the most advantageous one, which alone is worth 4.3 billion euro. The underworld incidence grows mainly in the four regions with traditional mafia, which recorded more than half of the total number of offenses (well 14,736) with 12,732 complaints, 71 arrests and 5,127 seizures.

In central Italy Lazio leads the ranking of eco-crimes, Liguria in the north. In the south the slight drop in crimes committed in Campania (-21%, perhaps due to the many lights on in the territory in recent years), is offset by an increase of crimes in Puglia (4,499). Numbers due to the extensive work of monitoring and control carried out in the region by the police (in particular by Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza, Forester). Lombardy, instead, is at the top for the investigation into corruption (31) followed by Sicily with 28 investigation, by Campania  with 27, Lazio with 26, and Calabria with 22. But the phenomenon is nationwide. As a whole, there have been 233 eco-criminal inquiries where corruption has played a crucial role, resulted in the arrest of 2,529 people and the complaint of 2,016, thanks to the contribution of 64 prosecutors in eighteen regions. Analyzing other types of crimes, “ecomafia 2015” shows a boom of offenses in the waste cycle (+26%), exceeding the threshold of 7 thousand, more precisely 7,244, almost 20 per day. The number of investigations into organized garbage trafficking was also high, 35 in 2014, bringing the balance to 285 starting from 2002.

It is impressive also the amount of seizures carried out in the past year and a half: in just 16 such investigations more than three million tons of poisons were seized. The trades also unfold along the international routes, where there were found waste materials destined for recycling or for illegally approximate energy recovery: wreckage of cars and vehicles (38%), waste rubber and/or tires (17.8%), and then metals, plastics, and textiles. Also increase the crimes in the cement sector, 5,750 (+4.3%). In addition to the environmental damages the report also highlighted those related to protected areas and archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, markets, fairs and other places at risk. In 2014 were there were 852 thefts of works of art ascertained by the police, which led to the complaint of 1,558 people and the arrest of 15. The most common activity among those connected with archaeo-mafia is that of receiving stolen goods. Like other years, Lazio is the region with the highest number of infringements, followed by Emilia Romagna, Campania, and Tuscany. The Police, in particular, the Forester, and the Guardia di Finanza vigilate and prevent further crimes against our environment.

But something is changing. According to the national director of Legambiente, Rossella Muroni, 2015 is an “extraordinary year” because it has been introduced a law that finally “introduces into the Criminal Code a specific title devoted to crimes against the environment, which punishes those who want to make profits at the expense of collective health and ecosystems. A key tool to fight even that gray area where the corruption reigns, that has become the main enemy of the environment because of too many colluded administrations, dishonest administrators and of the  emergency management which circumvent rules and transparent procurement”. And which make a beautiful country drown in a sea of poison.

Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo

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