Ecuador Cracks Down on Illegal Gold Mines

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Ecuador’s military carried out a operation to shut down illegal goldmines in the northwest of the country, close to the border with Colombia.

On Saturday President Rafael Correa declared a state of exception in the cantons of San Lorenzo and El Alfaro, sending the military to shut down illegal mines and destroy their equipment.

It is estimated that in these cantons there are more than 120 such gold mines. The operation resulted in at least three injuries, reports El Comercio.

According to Security Minister Homero Arellano, the purpose of the operation was to defend the local population from environmental damage caused by illegal mining techniques.

Illegal mining is a source of concern for the Ecuadorian government. There have multiple clashes between miners and law enforcement.

Neighboring Colombia has seen proceeds from illegal mining going to drug-trafficking organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC). See InSight’s map of the criminal interests around illegal gold mining in Antioquia.

In 2010 President Rafael Correa said he would continue operations against clandestine mining, saying “We will not let our country fall into the same situation as other countries where there are extensive territories that are not under state control but under the control of illegal activities.”

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