Authorities Crackdown On Environmental Crime

Six Held After Seizure Of 26 Tons In Illegal Pesticides

Seizure of profits from illegal pesticides. Credit:

How often does criminal activity intersect with our food supply chain? A recent report throws light on this alarming issue.

An international collaboration entitled ‘Operation Kaltegarria’ has led to arrests in Spain and France over unregulated agricultural chemicals that pose a danger to humans, animals and the environment.

In a sweeping crackdown, the Guardia Civil, in coordination with French authorities, has apprehended six individuals linked to an international criminal network.

The operation involved meticulous searches in Irun, Basque Country; Arenales del Sol, Alicante and Castres, France. These arrests highlight a disturbing trend in the illicit trade of unregulated phytosanitary products.

The Impact Of Illegal Trade

The operation unearthed more than 26 tons of unregulated phytosanitary products. Investigators estimate the criminal organization’s profits approached €3 million, derived from the sale of these harmful chemicals.

Seized assets, which included €20,000 cash, seven vehicles, and 14 blocked bank accounts, exceeded €1 million in total. This illegal activity poses significant risks to public health, agriculture, and the environment.

The Crucial Role Of Plant Health

‘Protecting plants from pests and diseases is vital for sustainable agriculture and forestry,’ notes the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Up to 40 per cent of food crops are lost annually due to such threats.

Spain is the European Union’s leading producer of fruits and vegetables and one of the main producers worldwide, also leading the list of EU exporters in the fruit and vegetable sector and being one of the top three global exporters. Hence it faces a substantial risk if unauthorized substances are used.

Environmental Implications

Stringent European and national regulations govern the use of phytosanitary products. The misuse of these substances can devastate crops, harm soil quality, and affect biodiversity.

The operation’s success is a testament to the authorities’ commitment to enforcing these regulations and safeguarding environmental and public health.

Collaborative Effort

According to the report: ‘The detainees are accused of several crimes, belonging to a criminal organization, against the environment and natural resources, against public health, catastrophic risk, document falsification and money laundering.’

Directed by the Court of Instruction No. 5 of Irun, the operation exemplifies international cooperation in combating environmental crimes.

The Guardia Civil’s SEPRONA unit, the French Gendarmerie, Europol, and other agencies collaborated effectively to dismantle this criminal network.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.