Peru’s Illegal Mining Hotspot Has Other Crimes to Worry About

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Peruvian authorities dismantled a human trafficking network operating in the region of Madre de Dios, a territory known for illegal mining activity. 

The female trafficking victims were lured by promises of work, then exploited in night clubs in the cities of Lima, Callao, Madre de Dios, Trujillo, Huánuco and Ayacucho, the newspaper El Comercio reported. 

Authorities said a criminal organization called “Los Brothers” was behind the trafficking network, based in Madre de Dios. Fifteen people were arrested, including two officers with the Peruvian National Police (Policía Nacional del Perú – PNP). 

SEE ALSO: Peru Running Out of Ideas to Stop Illegal Mining in Madre de Dios

Among the arrested officers was Commander Manuel Morillo Cribilleros, chief of the Criminal Investigation Division (División de Investigación Criminal – DIVINCRI) in Puerto Maldonado, the region’s capital. He was accused of providing information about police operations to the network. 

In March 2019, a massive operation was carried out to remove some 5,000 illegal gold miners from Madre de Dios — a region of Amazon rainforest bordering Brazil and Bolivia. The intervention, however, revealed that the livelihoods of about 40,000 people were directly or indirectly dependent to illegal mining. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The bust of the human trafficking ring shows just how deep corruption runs in Madre de Dios, where bars and night clubs have long catered to illegal miners.

Sex trafficking has been rampant in this particular region. Recent busts include 44 victims rescued after the March mega operation against illegal mining. In 2017, authorities rescued six women and two underage girls forced into prostitution in the same region. In 2013, 300 women were rescued from a sex trafficking ring based in Madre de Dios.

According to figures from Peru’s National Institute of Statistics and Information (Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática – INEI), Madre de Dios ranked third in reports of human trafficking from 2011 to 2018.  

What’s more, the latest bust revealed that the sex trafficking ring had operated since 2016 and received protection from a commander who was responsible for investigating the crime but was actually profiting from it.

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