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Trash-smuggling duo jailed

By Chen Tian (Global Times)

10:30, April 11, 2013

The Suzhou Intermediate People's Court in Jiangsu Province sentenced two men to 10 and seven years in prison respectively on Tuesday for smuggling thousands of tons of solid trash from overseas to Hefei, Anhui Province.

A defendant surnamed Cui, who owns the Hefei-based company Tuteng Trade, was jailed for 10 years. The company was fined 1.5 million yuan ($242,170). His co-defendant surnamed Gao, owner of Canadian firm Gaoxu Trade, was jailed for seven years, and the company was fined 800,000 yuan, according to a court statement e-mailed to the Global Times Wednesday.

Cui and Gao conspired with another unidentified offshore entity to smuggle some 2,000 tons of waste from the Netherlands and North America to Hefei between June and December last year, a court press officer, surnamed Song, told the Global Times.

Gaoxu smuggled 540 of the 2,000 tons identified by Zhangjiagang customs authorities in Jiangsu at a sorting plant and several warehouses owned by Tuteng.

Gaoxu and the other overseas firm sourced the trash, while Tuteng was responsible for falsifying names on imports, camouflaging cargo and forging documents to smuggle the waste past customs officials.

Tuesday's ruling capped off the latest case in a series of trash-smuggling scandals that has plagued Jiangsu in recent years, said Song. The first verdict in these cases was handed down in November 2012, with the company fined 800,000 yuan and a convicted owner jailed for six-and-a-half years.

The Daily Mail reported on April 6 that the UK's environment agency said the country ships 12 million tons of waste abroad annually. Most trash exports up in Asia, with the majority sent to China to be buried instead of recycled.

The agency vowed to tighten up inspections to tackle the problem.

Dong Jinshi, secretary-general of the International Food Packaging Association, told the Global Times that foreign waste is often sorted manually, with salvageable materials processed to make toys, coat hangers and even food boxes, while the rest is buried. "Processed materials can release toxic chemicals that endanger people's health, while burying waste can contaminate soil and groundwater."

Ruan Qilin, a criminal law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that convicted trash smugglers can be sentenced to a maximum jail term of 15 years. "Guilty parties of this crime are often blinded by profits," Ruan said.

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