Combo photograph of the arrest. | Reuters


Spanish police on Monday said they had broken up a criminal organization that illegally shipped 2,500 tonnes of toxic waste from the Canary Islands all over West Africa.

Some 34 people were arrested on the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria as part of a joint operation with Europol, the Civil Guard police force said in a statement.

Over the past two years, the group dispatched 138 shipments, from discarded car engines to household goods, in breach of local and international laws, according to the police.

Electronic goods such as old monitors and computer parts made up around a third of the cargoes, the police said.

Such devices can contain noxious substances like lead, mercury and arsenic, which can be damaging to human health and the environment if not handled correctly.

Among those detained was a 62-year old Italian woman whose trading business allegedly provided forged customs documents and fake certificates of operation for some of the exported goods, the statement said.

Nigeria was the main recipient of the shipments, though containers were sent to at least seven other countries, where third parties sold on the contents.