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To Report Environmental Crimes:
(410) 537-3333

Toll Free
(800) 633-6101, Ext. 3333

E-Mail:
ECU.mde@maryland.gov

FAX:
(410) 537-3030


Learn about the Attorney General's Chesapeake Bay Environmental Audits here.


   
   

Environmental Crimes Unit
1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland  21230-1719

The Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU) of the Office of the Attorney General is a part of the Attorney General's Criminal Investigations Division. The Unit currently includes three Assistant Attorneys General, one civilian investigator with extensive environmental science and investigation backgrounds, and one Maryland State Police trooper assigned as an investigator. Police investigators maintain their normal police qualifications and acquire the training necessary to enable them to fully investigate environmental crimes, including sampling and safety protocols. The Maryland Department of the Environment provides support to the ECU, promoting regular interaction with Department of the Environment's inspectors and other technical experts.

Attorney General Curran teaches students at a mock environmental crime scene.
Attorney General Gansler teaches students
at a mock environmental crime scene.


Hazardous Dump Site

Medical Waste

Water Pollution


Tire Dump

Criminal investigation of environmental crimes was implemented as a result of the federal passage in 1976 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The unit, which was then known as the Hazardous Waste Strike Force came into existence in 1982 to investigate hazardous waste violations under RCRA. The unit became the Environmental Crimes Unit in 1987 because, as a result of additional federal regulations and laws, investigations now covered a broad range of environmental matters. The federal laws governing the environment, including the RCRA, the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Clean Air Act (CAA), among others, require each State to have environmental regulatory programs and to have a criminal enforcement component.

The Environmental Crimes Unit operates as would any traditional law enforcement office. Investigators and police officers conduct investigations which result in criminal cases prosecuted by attorneys. In any given case, a surveillance of an individual or corporation may be initiated, a search warrant may be obtained, documents or witnesses may be subpoenaed before a Grand Jury, and arrests may be made.
In addition to typical investigative tools, environmental crimes often require sampling and laboratory analysis in order to establish an essential element of the crime. One example is a hazardous waste case, which would require proof at trial that the substance fits the statutory and regulatory definition of a hazardous waste.

WHAT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME?

When the United States Congress enacted the major environmental statutes; the Resource, Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Clean Air Act (CAA), it envisioned an enforcement system which would be delegated to the states. Under this delegation, the State of Maryland is authorized to administer and enforce its own environmental laws and regulations in lieu of the federal government. Thus, state environmental laws tend to parallel the federal laws upon which they are based.

In Maryland, the majority of environmental criminal laws can be found in the Environment Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Applicable laws are also found in the Criminal Law Article and the Natural Resources Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as well as in Code of Maryland Regulations(COMAR).

Under the typical environmental statute or regulation, conduct that is violative of that provision may be dealt with in either a civil or criminal action, or both. Criminal investigations are independent of civil cases. Neither the outcome of civil cases, nor the presence of civil penalty dictate any criminal determination. In a criminal action, charges may be filed against both a corporate entity and any individuals responsible for the crime.

Criminal convictions against corporate entities can result in fines and probation. Criminal convictions against individuals can result in jail time against that person. Other criminal penalties can include fines, restitution, community service and probation.

WHERE CASES COME FROM

The majority of cases investigated by ECU come from referrals through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), as a result of findings during inspections, or complaints that they receive. Cases also come as referrals from other agencies, including police agencies and the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); as well as individual citizen or citizen group complaints and independent investigations initiated by ECU. police agencies and the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); as well as individual citizen or citizen group complaints and independent investigations initiated by ECU.

 

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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