Illegal trafficking in hazardous waste on a transnational basis, as a phenomenon, is both alarming and difficult to combat, not only on account of the active involvement of organized crime, but also because of the lack of homogeneous regulation in terms of controls and sanctions at both European and international level. Directive 2008/99/EC on environmental crimes does not provide for a detailed description of the criminal offences therein envisaged, nor does it prescribe specific types or levels of penalties. The regulatory scenario in Europe is therefore quite varied: unlike the Italian legal system – characterized by the express provision for the crime of “organized activities for the illegal trafficking of waste” (art. 452 quaterdecies c.p.) –, in other nations there isn’t a criminal offence specifically aimed at combating organized illegal trafficking of waste, nor properly severe penalties are in force. Thus, it seems essential to move towards a common European crime of illegal trafficking of waste, which will have to be implemented relying on the legislative competence of the European Union in criminal matters, pursuant to Art. 83 TFEU. Lastly, an effective action to tackle this phenomenon requires the use of adequate preventive tools, as well as the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach, in order to draw on diversified professional skills and experiences.
This study focuses on the delicate issue of illegal waste trafficking, in particular in the Mediterranean area, to identify effective tools to prevent and repress the Ecomafia phenomenon. In order to do that, a preliminary analysis of the operating models must be carried out, as well as of the phases through which it develops, of the aims it pursues and of the subjects that take part in it. In this regard, arising from the natural starting point in the Italian body of law, the Article 260, d. lgs. 2006, no. 152, today reproduced by the Article 452 quaterdecies penal code, as combined in some cases with the Articles 416 and 416 bis penal code, the study will then consider the aggravating circumstances “ecomafiosa” and “environmental”, introduced by the Law 22 May 2015, no. 68, in order to contrast the hipotesis of environmental crimes, whenever they interact with criminal associations. The research will address the effectiveness of the current legislation to properly neutralize the entire dynamic since its origine and in its distinct features. In this context, having noted the level of criticality that the regulatory overview presents in dealing with a phenomenon of such magnitude and complexity, and having considered several similarities with the criminal association structure, one wonders about the opportunity to introduce a specific associative hypothesis, to regulate the “association to commit environmental crimes”.