When Worlds Collide #92: When Mafia Goes ‘Green’, Nobody is Safe!

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday broadsheet newspaper on 24 November  2013


Twenty years ago, Italian police and Customs officials going after narcotics were considered ‘heroic’ while those investigating any environmental crimes were seen as ‘boy scouts’. After all, what could be so criminal about waste and pollution?

Plenty, as it turned out. In the early 1990s, Italy’s notorious organised crime syndicates – or the mafia – discovered that they could make lots of money fast by helping industries to get rid of their toxic waste.

So mafia groups decided to ‘go green’ – and ecomafias emerged.

The Italian environmental advocacy group Legambiente started investigating this in 1993, when a pile of toxic waste was discovered near a NATO military base in Italy. In fact, they coined the term ‘ecomafie’ (ecomafia), which soon entered popular vocabulary.

Legambiente has been researching on ecomafia practices…

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