Mexico Gold Mine Attracts Criminal Gangs

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Criminal gang the Guerreros Unidos are reportedly terrorizing a local community living near one of Mexico’s biggest gold mines.

The Los Filos-El Bermejal mine — based in the municipality of Eduardo Neri in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero — has reportedly attracted intense attention from criminal groups looking to collect extortion payments — known as “piso” — from miners, reported newswire DPA.

In 2014, authorities in the nearby town of Carrizalillo said that armed men had entered the town and began extorting anyone working for or benefitting financially from the mine — which is owned by Canadian company Goldcorp and had a revenue of $326 million last year. According to DPA, the mine is a major source of income and employment in the area. However, Milenio reports that between 2011 and September 2015, there were only two official reports of extortion.

The conflict reportedly led to an escalation in kidnappings and murders. The town mayor told Milenio that 30 percent of families were displaced as a result of violence.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Guerreros Unidos

Only last week, five bodies were found in mass graves near Carrizalillo. A member of the criminal gang Guerreros Unidos allegedly led locals to the site.

The police commissioner of Carrizalillo affirmed that earlier this year, Goldcorp denied that three of its workers had been kidnapped and did not offer any assistance. The workers were later found dead. Goldcorp told DPA that the incidents did not take place inside the mine site, where “there are greater security protocols.” 

According to locals, the past two years have already seen the murder of a dozen people linked to the mine, DPA reported. 

InSight Crime Analysis

It is not unusual for multinational mining companies to be exploited by criminal groups across Latin America. In Mexico alone, criminal groups are allegedly involved in mining activities in five states. Guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are also known for extorting gold miners and destroying bulldozers belonging to those who do not pay the requisite tax.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Mining

Nor would it be surprising if the Guerreros Unidos are targeting locals in this particular conflict. The group is known for its use of extreme violence, kidnapping, and extortion. 

Ultimately, GoldCorp’s case seems to be representative of the tensions that many multinationals face when operating in conflict-ridden areas — to what degree should they distance themselves from violence that takes place outside their immediate zone of operations? Notably, while examples of multinationals openly admitting to interacting with criminal groups are rare, another Canadian mining company did precisely that earlier this year. 

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