The arrests are part of a nationwide waste crime investigation, a joint operation by the Environment Agency, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).
A 29-year-old man and a 46-year-old man were arrested for questioning, the Environment Agency announced. It said the pair, who have not been identified, are believed to be involved in organised crime across the country, including in Lancashire, Middlesborough, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Kent.
Both men were arrested at their homes in Chelsea and Hampstead Heath. The properties were also searched as part of the investigation.
Following the arrests, Environment Agency team leader Mark Rumble said: “These arrests are part of extremely serious organised crime activity, which involves the dumping of illegal waste, fraud and money laundering across the country. We are working closely with partners to share intelligence on illegal waste activity to ensure the culprits are brought to justice.”
And, Mr Rumble emphasised the importance of remaining vigilant in order to tackle waste crime. “We need everyone to play their part in the fight against waste crime – an issue that blights communities and drains valuable resources. Property and landowners are encouraged to be vigilant and report suspicious illegal activity to the Environment Agency.”
Detective inspector Tim Court, Metropolitan Police organised crime command, explained that it is “critical” that different parts of the government work together to target organised crime.
“Organised crime has many forms but always exploits and undermines individuals, businesses and society for financial gain,” he said. “Today’s activity has proven that the MPS and organised crime advisors will take action against those involved in any organised criminal activity in order to protect London.”
The London GAIN co-ordinator added: “Working in partnership, sharing intelligence lawfully and efficiently, the GAIN aims to ensure that government agencies along with law enforcement will help reduce serious and organised crime, in the most cost effective way. This action is an excellent example of adopting a multi-agency approach.”
The Environment Agency also took the opportunity to remind land and property owners what to look out for.
The Agency said:
- Check any empty land and property regularly, and make sure it is secure.
- Carry out rigorous checks on prospective and new tenants. Land and property owners have a responsibility to ensure anyone leasing their land/property complies with regulations. They may be committing an offence by allowing waste to be stored on land or property without the relevant permissions, leaving them liable to prosecution.
- Be vigilant and report any unusual behaviour.