Pollution crime not only damages the environment, but also results in significant profits for criminals, in some cases totaling millions of dollars. The illegal disposal of waste into waterways, the air and the ground can significantly damage a community’s livelihood, destroy jobs and lower property values. The illegal actions of one company or even one individual can have far-reaching consequences beyond the damage caused by the initial act. A business which violates the law has an unfair economic advantage over a law-abiding one.
It is the responsibility of law enforcement to ensure that environmental criminals are stopped and receive penalties sufficient enough to deter future violations.
These issues have both national and international repercussions. Countries downstream from an illegal discharge can have their drinking water supplies contaminated. Hazardous waste, especially from more developed nations where it is strictly controlled, can be illegally disposed of in less developed countries, taking advantage of lax or non-existent environmental controls or effective enforcement.
In today’s global economy there is a need for an international strategy to deal with this type of criminality. Interpol is uniquely qualified to assist in this effort. In partnership with its member countries, Interpol has formed the Pollution Crimes Working Group, an active forum in which criminal investigators from around the globe meet to discuss issues such as: