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Organized Criminal Networks And Illegal Dumping

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A pictorial of transnational crime paints an image of systematic network of individuals that deter and/or counter functions of legitimate state authority(ies). The goal is simple – make big profit, illegitimately. So powerful are these networks that in some situations have been perceived to either compromise and/or capture state instruments of power and sovereignty. However, latent perspectives of organized crime exist. Key among being that of illegal dumping in the oceans contributed not only by criminal enterprises that offer quick solutions to dumping hazardous waste but also through Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) land-based activities.

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Imagine navigating on board a vessel through thousands of nautical miles of hazardous rubbish littered indiscriminately over the ocean. Imagine again what it’s like for the natural habitats of the ocean who have to bear living in an altered ecosystem full of microplastics, compounded with toxic mining waste like lead and brewed to color by a repository of nuclear/radioactive waste like Uranium Dioxide. Now, on board a vessel, imagine more a fish dish catched from the same ecosystem, grilled and served for lunch. This is organized crime 101 present in the entire food chain.

Discovered in 2010, the Indian Ocean garbage patch is an oceanic version of a landfill. A project conducted by the 5 Gyres Institute, collected water samples over a stretch of 5,000km between Perth Australia and Port Louis, Mauritius. Cofounder of the Institute, Anna Cummins termed the pollution found in the samples as a “thin layer of plastic soup.” This patch is part of an interconnected oceanic roller system that since inception remains the authority responsible in dictating earth’s ocean currents. Ocean currents remain an important pillar in maritime navigation, marine life ecology, global climate and untapped source of renewable energy.

Studies point out effects of human contribution to climate change on ocean currents. Further studies flag the risks illegal dumping amplifies garbage patches on the ocean currents. This in turn brings in a whole new twist in the entire global eco system. Yes, there exist organized criminal networks that act as merchants offering solutions to off-shore dumping of toxic wastes into the ocean. These networks offer quick fixes to clients who would opt not to invest in putting up treating and recycling waste plants with the aim of cutting down costs. However, off-shore dumping contributes only 20% to dumping in the oceans. UNEP estimates 80% of pollution and dumping in the ocean results from land-based activities.

03 December 2019

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