Ecomafia is a neologism invented by Legambiente in 1994 to designate organized crime groups who have made of illicit waste disposal and trafficking, illegal building, illicit excavation activities, illicit work of art and protected species trafficking, their new great business. Moreover, every year, we assist at new illicit interests for organized crime such as the “agricultural mafia” or other ones trying to exploit the renewable energy sector and the large retail sector as illicit business.
No Ecomafia. Thanks to the work of the National Observatory on Environment and Legality and the annual publications “Rapporto Ecomafia” (Report on Ecomafias) ( and “Mare Monstrum”, Legambiente has been investigating on such issues and at the same time, it has been trying to propose legal and preventing solutions.
In Italy, there is a place that unfortunately has become the symbol of such illegal waste disposal operations: the so-called “Land of Fires” (Terra dei fuochi). It is situated near Napoli and Caserta, in the Campania Region, where there have been continuous illegal waste discharges and fires of residues without caring about their dispersion in the Environment. As a consequent, many polluting substances have been permeating the soil, the air, and the underground water of the area for many years. In Terra dei Fuochi more than 10 million tons of poison have been dispersed in the last 22 years. Legambiente has been reporting such enormous problem for a long time and struggled for the reclamation of this and other sites yet very polluted. In Italy, in the last 15 years, 100 thousands hectares in 39 national important areas and 6 thousand regional areas have been contaminated, both in land and water. However, projects of environmental sanitation have come too often very late and reclamation works are most of the times practically lacking or not completed. Our mission is to struggle in order to make the difference and completely change the situation to follow the example of other countries that succeeded in this sector.
Environmental crimes. In order to combat in an efficient and long-lasting way the organized crime in the environmental sector, Legambiente has asked for the introduction of “environmental crimes” in the Italian Criminal Code. This is one of our most important struggles, for which we did not hesitate to demonstrate in the streets in the past, while, at the same time, we have always been willing to cooperate and have a dialogue with the representatives and politicians who wanted to listen to our voice.

Environmental crimes