Five people have been arrested as alleged members of a complex business network dedicated to the importation, commercialization and irregular distribution of tons of gases, which they used for refrigeration.
The organization carried out all this activity in breach of community regulations, since it lacked the required quota, causing the emission of tons of gases into the atmosphere without authorization. This quota, the limit of gases that an importer can import in a year, is established by the European Union for each country and is set as an environmental protection measure.
The operation was carried out by officials of the Tax Agency together with the National Police, and in collaboration with the European Office for the Fight against Fraud and they have dismantled the most active organization dedicated to the illegal import and treatment of fluorinated gases.
In fact, it is the largest in Europe against greenhouse gas fraud, with the intervention of more than 27,000 kilos of fluorinated gases, which had a market value of more than 250,000 euros. In addition, more than 180,000 kilos were discovered, with a value of more than one million euros.
Start of the performances, in Ciudad Real and Madrid
The investigations began from the inspections carried out in two industrial warehouses of companies located in the town of Almagro (Ciudad Real) and in the municipality of Campo Real (Madrid), and which were carried out upon learning of the unloading of two Containers of fluorinated gas bottles that would have been imported without meeting the requirements established by law.
In total, 2,126 bottles were intercepted, equivalent to more than 27,000 kilos of fluorinated gases. Likewise, 1,068 empty bottles were found outdoors in an outdoor patio, some of them being prohibited by the European Union, regardless of the gas contained.
Finally, an undetermined number of bottles were found, cut in half, which meant the direct emission of residual gas into the atmosphere, as well as a serious danger.
Different irregularities of an administrative nature related to the handling of containers, the labeling and repainting of bottles and waste management, among others, were also observed.
Distributed by Spain, Germany, France, Portugal and Senegal After advancing the investigation, it was determined that the modus operandi of the criminal group consisted of the creation of companies in the name of front men that would be dedicated since 2018 to the importation of fluorinated gases from China, evading customs controls by declaring in the unique administrative documents an incorrect tariff heading that did not correspond with imported gender.
Later, once in the Almagro and Campo Real warehouses, the fluorinated gases were distributed through a logistics company to customers in Spain, Germany, France, Portugal and Senegal.
It is estimated that the discovery of the imported merchandise would be of more than 15,000 bottles of fluorinated gases. The documentation is still being analyzed to calculate the total amount of imported gases.
However, taking into account the minimum volume of the containers, it can be estimated that the amount of imported fluorinated gas is greater than 180,000 kilos. Most of the imported gas is R134A, which has a global warming potential of 1,300, which means that an emission of one ton is equivalent to the emission of 1,300 tons of carbon dioxide, contributing in this amount to the global warming potential.
In short, this group was allegedly responsible for the emission into the atmosphere, in violation of community regulations and, therefore, without authorization, for the equivalent of more than 234,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
In addition, a new inspection was carried out in the commercial establishment of an end customer, in Tarragona, finding out that gender that had previously been intervened in a precautionary manner had been distributed. Bottles of fluorinated gases that did not contain the labeled and invoiced gas were also distributed, for which the container was manipulated.
And all this was carried out for profit, since the invoiced bottle has a value six times higher, and avoiding the associated tax burden.
Finally, a police operation was carried out in which an entry and registration procedure was carried out at the fiscal domicile of the main company, proceeding to the arrest of five people as members of a criminal group and clarifying the crimes of smuggling, against the environment. environment, fraud, gross disobedience and belonging to a criminal group.