Dozens arrested in major crackdown on illegal mining in southeast Colombia

(Photo credit: Reuters)

Colombian armed forces raided 63 illegal mining operations allegedly operated by the FARC Monday, blowing up mining equipment and arresting 59 people in one of the biggest raids on illegal mines in Colombian history.

The operation, known as Operation Anostomus, involved 600 soldiers, police and magistrates, and targeted sites where gold, tungsten and cobalt were being mined.

Twelve FARC guerrillas were reportedly arrested during the raids, along with four Brazilians and one Venezuelan.

The illegal mines were located in the provinces of Guainia and Vichada along the border with Venezuela and Brazil.

The raid will reportedly deprive the FARC of approximately $9 million a month.

The raid will also likely satisfy human rights groups and environmental activists, as illegal mines are known to be rife with human rights violations and practices harmful to the environment.

“Illegal mining generates illicit finances for illegal groups and destroys the environment,” explained defense minister Juan Carlos Pinzon. “We’re talking about the heaviest blow to illegal and criminal mining in at least a decade.”

The FARC, like most other illegal armed groups in Colombia, have increasingly become financially dependent on illegal mining operations that have boomed alongside their legitimate counterparts.


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