Home Sciences A network that trafficked greenhouse gases falls in half of Spain

A network that trafficked greenhouse gases falls in half of Spain

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The Civil Guard and the Tax Agency have dismantled a network that trafficked greenhouse gases in 15 provinces, in an operation in which 110 tons of different gases valued at 11 million euros have been seized.

They especially trafficked in fluorinated gas, used for refrigeration and of which researchers have highlighted its high polluting effect: it would be equivalent to making a Madrid-Paris flight 3,960 times or the carbon dioxide emissions of 15 million vehicles over 100 kilometers, and would cause 75,000 square meters of the Pole’s cap to melt North.

The leader of the network was in Valencia and the network was distributed throughout the provinces of Granada, Jaén, Málaga, Córdoba, Seville, Huelva, Almería, Badajoz, Murcia, Alicante, Albacete, Toledo, Salamanca and Madrid.

This was explained this Tuesday at a press conference to report on the Marum operation, in which Europol and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) have also collaborated, and which has resulted in 27 detainees and 3 under investigation. .

Six of them are in preventive detention as alleged perpetrators of crimes of belonging to a criminal organization, smuggling, against the Public Treasury and Social Security, money laundering, against the environment, against public health, against workers’ rights and drug trafficking.

The disjointed organization imported the gases mainly from China and later pretended to export them to other countries. However, the researchers have determined that it was a simulation and that these were distributed to different parts of Spain.

black market

In this way, they sold the gases on the black market three times below the market price and avoided paying the taxes imposed by the European Union and Spain, intended to compensate the damage to the ecosystem caused by their use.

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For this reason, the Treasury stopped receiving nearly 3.5 million euros, in addition to the competitive damage that it entailed for the sector.

The head of the Central Operational Environmental Unit of the Civil Guard, Carlos Astrain, has highlighted that these polluting gases are the ones that “cause climate change”, and that for this reason they are limited in the European Union and taxed with an additional tax in Spain. .

“The levies are independent of the price of gas itself, they depend on its capacity for contamination. In this case, they represent an important part of the final price of gas, up to 50 percent of the total”, added Javier Zazo, head of the National Customs investigation office.

The network introduced tons of gas through the port of Valencia that would supposedly travel through various countries of the European Union to its final destination in a third country such as Jordan, although that merchandise actually stayed in Spain.

To facilitate the circulation and distribution of the merchandise through Spanish territory, they had created a ghost company in Portugal that was supposed to be the recipient of the merchandise, which gave the appearance of legality to gas transportation.

In the 30 searches carried out – homes and companies – 180 agents from different bodies participated, seizing 364,000 euros in cash, several high-end vehicles, a large amount of documentation, 435 grams of cocaine base and 435 ecstasy tablets, in addition to other effects used for drug trafficking.

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Although the bulk of the investigation has not focused on drug trafficking, but on gas trafficking, researchers have insisted on the parallels that exist between both types of criminal networks.

“They have all the elements associated with organized crime, but in this case, instead of trafficking drugs, they trafficked with elements that affect the environment,” said José Antonio Alfaro, head of environmental crimes at Europol.

The investigations began in September 2021, when SEPRONA verified that greenhouse gas refrigerant imported from China was being clandestinely sold in different locations in Granada at a price three times below the market price.

As a result of these investigations, a network of companies structured into four levels of criminal operations was discovered.

The leader of the organization was in Valencia and was in charge of importing the gases and simulating their export to other countries.

Below was a network of distributors, who stored and distributed them from Granada to other parts of Spain; the merchants, who they were companies related to the cold sector –air conditioners, cold rooms–; and end customers.

The proceedings are available to court number 4 of Granada and the Environment Section of the Prosecutor’s Office of the same province.

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