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Brains of Camorra's ecomafia jailed

Police say Camorra figure masterminded waste trafficking for mob

10 December, 17:59
Brains of Camorra's ecomafia jailed (By Sandra Cordon) (ANSA) - Naples, December 10 - The alleged creator of the "ecomafia" wing of the notorious Casalesi clan of the Neapolitan Camorra mafia, blamed for serious environmental and health crimes via waste disposal, was arrested Tuesday.

Police say that Cipriano Chianese, 62, presented himself as a businessman and lawyer but the so-called "garbage king" actually created the ecomafia and for decades oversaw the illegal trafficking of waste exposed in the bestselling book Gomorrah.

The author of that book, Roberto Saviano, also exposed the criminal empire of the Casalesi, one of the most powerful families in the Neapolitan mafia, and as a result has been under police protection because of death threats.

The book Gomorrah was later turned into an award-winning film of the same name and documents the mob's deadly hold over rackets and businesses ranging from toxic-waste disposal to construction, drugs and even the garment industry. Police on Tuesday also alleged that Chianese put out a one-million-euro hit on a prosecutor in Naples and his plot only became known when an employee turned him in to authorities.

Chianese offered that sum to anyone who would kill the lead prosecutor investigating him and his activities, according to police.

The would-be hit man who took the contract did not complete the job in 2006 because he was arrested first, police said.

Chianese had previously been under house arrest in connection with allegations of creating an environmental disaster and poisoning water supplies, but Tuesday was transferred into full custody. Police say that Carlo Verde, 37, who worked for Chianese, told them of the assassination plot.

Verde was also arrested Tuesday along with Chianese's brother Francesco.

Cipriano Chianese is also alleged to have extorted quotas for waste management and forcibly seized control of a transport company, the Mary Trans, that moved waste for municipal governments and businesses. Authorities have said that Chianese is believed to be a leading player in the largest Camorra operation in the waste sector and the ecomafia system in Campania.

The Camorra has long infiltrated every part of the rubbish collection industry and has raked in huge profits even as its illegal dumps and uncontrolled burning of waste and other toxic materials have been blamed for unusually high levels of cancer and other disease linked to pollution. In particular, its disposal of toxic waste including burning in the southern Campania region and the area between Naples and Caserta - dubbed the "Land of Fires" - has led to serious health warnings.

Mafia infiltration of waste disposal has become a major environmental and health issue as hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste - some of it dangerously contaminated - has been illegally dumped in what some have described as an ecological time bomb that will continue to poison the land for at least another 50 years. In many cases, hazardous or toxic waste has, in clear violation of environmental laws, been dumped in landfills that are not properly sealed with the result that waste materials seep into the soil and aquifers. Last week, the Italian government banned waste burning without authoritization to try to stem illegal dumping sites.

According to environmental group Legambiente, 14% of environmental crimes in Italy take place in Campania, where 6,000 illegal waste fires and 2,000 toxic dumps were reported between January last year and August 2013.