An Interpol-led global operation, in which Indian enforcement agencies also participated, has resulted in the identification of thousands of suspects, companies and criminal networks engaged in maritime pollution.
As part of ‘Operation 30 Days at Sea 3.0’ (March 1 to 31), 300 agencies across 67 countries carried out simultaneous operations involving “an unprecedented 34,000 inspections at sea and inland waterways, coastal areas and ports to detect marine pollution violations”. The searches were based on about five months of intelligence collection and analysis.
“Preliminary results from the operation’s tactical phase included the detection of 1,600 marine pollution offences, often triggering fines and follow-up investigations across all continents,” the Interpol said on Thursday.
The cases include about 500 illegal acts of pollution committed at sea, including oil discharges; illegal ship-breaking and sulphur emissions from vessels; 1,000 pollution offences in coastal areas and in rivers; and 130 offences of waste trafficking through ports.
“Authorities in Indonesia detected 65 oil spills and detained two vessels which tried to evade detection by turning off geolocation systems and concealing their national flags. A major criminal network trafficking plastic waste between Europe and Asia was exposed, triggering cooperation between authorities from both regions,” the Interpol statement said.
The Interpol said 22 suspects had been arrested so far and thousands of tonnes of waste prevented from being illegally shipped to Asia. “Several countries from Europe, Asia and Africa reported illegal shipments of contaminated or mixed metal waste falsely declared as metal scraps,” it said.
“Growing trends included COVID-19 disposable items such as masks and gloves, with 13 cases involving medical waste opened as a result of the operation,” the Interpol said. Agencies across Africa, Central and South America probed the illegal mining of gold, which often causes contamination due to mercury discharge.
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “The threat of pollution crime is constantly evolving, endangering the air we breathe, our water and soil. Although this is the third edition of 30 Days at Sea, it is never the same exercise. It is thanks to a global yet agile network that we have seen the number of inspections more than double since the first edition....”