The largest criminal network – eight individuals and three companies – to be uncovered and prosecuted by the Environment Agency for attempting to export broken electronic goods from the UK has been ordered to ay more than £220,000.
The sentencing that took part earlier this week is the second part of there legal action, with the prosecution having too be split into two as there were a total of 15 defendants, with five individuals and three companies already having been convicted in November 2011. The three individuals sentenced this week were told to pay more than £140,000 between them in fines, costs and confiscations. Another two defendants are still to face sentencing, while a third is still at large.
All defendants faced charges of shipping hazardous waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), for recovery to Nigeria, Ghana and Pakistan in breach of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 and the European Waste Shipment Regulation 2006. The shipments contained hazardous TVs, fridges (some containing ozone depleting substances) and old computers among the 450 tonnes of items.
Jeff Warburton, Investigating Officer for the case, named Operation Boron, said: “This has been a long and complex investigation to bring to book criminals who have flouted the law, risking people’s health in developing countries and undercutting legitimate recycling businesses in the UK. Working in partnership with the authorities in Nigeria and Belgium we have successfully stopped these illegal exporters. But we won’t stop there – we will continue to track down environmental criminals.”
Operation Boron has been a ten-year investigation and resulted in a dozen 40-foot containers destined for Nigeria being stopped. Several of the containers were described as “well dressed and labelled” in the front few rows to disguised the hazardous items hidden behind.