Romania is a garbage conundrum. Europe's worst recycler imports more trash—plastic from the U.K., tires from Germany—than any other country on the continent.
But for the last decade a small group of Roma from the lapsed industrial bastion of Baia Mare have been making a name for themselves by reversing the trend that has turned their country into Europe's garbage can: meticulously digging up the runoff of their city's fabled gold mines and trafficking it around the world. Since 2012, this business has brought in millions of euros to a city that never recovered from the collapse of Communism.
But is any of it legal? A group of prosecutors in the Black Sea port of Constanța are currently attempting to upend the narrative the Roma of Baia Mare are telling about themselves: They are not entrepreneurs, but waste traders, getting rich off exporting some of the world's most dangerous chemicals to those countries that can least afford to take them.