The scale of the problem could have been reduced had the government passed legislation first proposed three years ago to introduce the concept of environmental crime into Italy's penal code (ENDS Daily 23 March 1998), Legambiente added. Instead, the number of gangs involved in criminal activities relating to the environment has increased threefold in the last five years, it calculated, from 53 in 1996, to 143 now.
Nevertheless, police and port authority actions against environmental crime has increased considerably, according to Legambiente. Over 31,000 "environmental crimes" were detected in 2000, it says, compared with 26,500 in 1999 (ENDS Daily 27 March 2000).
The top five regions in the environmental crime list are Campania, Calabria, Sicily, Lazio and Puglia, with a combined total of over 18,000 recorded crimes. These areas are also where the stranglehold of Mafia is the strongest.
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