Six Chinese citizens were arrested together with 16 Colombians who were found working in an illegal mine in the north of Colombia, migration authorities said Tuesday.
Police identified the six Chinese citizens who allegedly provided technical assistance to the operation and were turned over to immigration authorities.
The authorities initially discovered the illegal mine from the air when flying over the Barranco de Loba municipality.
The mining has led to the destruction of several hectares of forests and pollution of streams through the dumping of chemicals. According to the environmental authorities it will take many decades for the jungle to recover from this catastrophe.
The commander of Police in Bolivar, Rafael Restrepo, gave details of the operation: “In the Southern Luke ravine in Bolivar a fly-by showed our men the environmental and ecological damage from the mining operation. They could see the deterioration and pollution to acres of forests from the chemicals in the creek.”
The police seized a backhoe valued at approximately $250,000 as well as two high-powered water pumps and large amounts of the chemicals cyanide and mercury.