Business & Economy

Two-dozen suspects arrested in illegal mining crackdown in Colombia

Bogota, Apr 18 (EFE).- Colombian authorities detained 24 individuals suspected of membership in illegal armed groups and involvement in illegal mining activities in five Colombian regions, military officials said Tuesday.

The commander of the Colombian army’s Illegal Mining Brigade, Col. Cesar Rojas Lopez, announced the arrests and said the material found during the raids was confiscated and turned over to the relevant authorities.

The official said the operation was carried out in the Colombian departments of Antioquia, Choco, Cauca, Caldas and Nariño.

The army said that with the destruction of pieces of heavy machinery and the arrests of illegal mining suspects authorities have struck a blow to illegal armed groups and transnational organized crime.

The operation also is believed to have deprived those illegal armed groups of some 10 billion pesos ($2.2 million) in revenue that they would have received from the sale of roughly 33,000 grams of gold.

The illegal mining activity caused environmental damage over an estimated area of 110 hectares (271 acres), Rojas said, noting that 126,500 cubic meters (4.46 million cubic feet) of soil had been removed and some tributaries of rivers had been contaminated with chemicals.

The army said Monday that 20 people had been arrested for their alleged involvement in illegal mining activity in the central department of Caldas.

During that operation in the municipality of Anserma, authorities raided two illegal gold mines that had affected nearly a hectare of vegetation and contaminated tributaries that flow into the Cauca River, Colombia’s second-biggest waterway. EFE


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