Landfill tax fraud could be used to put away organised crime gangs, according to the head of the Environment Agency (EA).
Massive waste fraud and fly-tipping schemes are being used by organised crime gangs linked to trafficking, drug-running and firearms, according to chief executive Sir James Bevan.
But Bevan told the Times newspaper that these crime families would be targeted by ’Al Capone-style’ prosecutions in the “next few months”.
He said: “People who are involved in serious organised waste crime are involved in almost every other form of organised crime — trafficking, drug-running, prostitution, arms offences.”
He said it was only in the past few years that the EA had built the inter-agency collaboration to tackle them, and its investigations would have a much broader impact on organised crime.
Bevan added: “The mafia do this – the mafia also bring good lawyers. That’s why it takes a long time.
”The Al Capone analogy is a good one. He was ultimately caught for tax fraud, and if a route into getting to some of these families is through landfill tax fraud, then we’ll do that.”
Crime groups have run schemes involving the dumping of household recycling, toxic and dangerous substances, and have managed to avoid hundreds of millions in landfill charges and other taxes.
Bevan said many such groups are now involved in the forcible requisitioning of land on which to fly-tip mountains of waste, which cost millions for agencies to clear.
The National Crime Agency is aware of 20 organised crime groups linked to waste crime and each of these is also linked to other crimes. Almost three- quarters have links to private companies believed to be shell firms.
The EA is working with the police to tackle waste crimes, as well as the growing scourge of modern day slavery. Bevan said: ”We already have strong powers. We can close down these sites, we can block off entrances. We can seize vehicles and crush them. We can refuse permits.”
Bevan also defended the waste and recycling industry in the interview, saying that “the comparably tiny scale of searches and seizures compared with the levels of waste being exported reflected low levels of illegal waste export”.