Police Raid 83 Illegal Mining Camps in National Rainforest Reserve

(Photo: El Comercio)

More than 1000 police were involved in the operation to remove illegal gold mines around Peru’s Tambopata Reserve.

The stories of illegal mines in Peru’s Tambopata rainforest reserve in Madre de Dios have been circulating for ages.  Removing the problem is turning out to be a process far more arduous than recognizing it.

However, the Ministry of the Interior recently released news of the largest raid on illegal mining since President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took office nearly 1 year ago.  The raid involved more than 1000 police and took over 83 illegal camps surrounding the Tambopata reserve.

El Comercio reports that the camps were also a hotbed of other illegal activity including sex trafficking.  6 women and 2 minors were rescued after being held in one of the camps against their will.

6 people were arrested for illegal mining crimes while 3 were arrested for human trafficking.  Much of the miners’ equipment was destroyed.

In recent weeks, the Fuerza Popular (Popular Force) majority in Peru’s Congress proposed some questionable laws, including one quite recently, that would, if passed, benefit illegal mining by preventing the destruction of their equipment.  A previous law sought to exclude informal mining from being considered organized crime.

As pointed out by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), the movement of these miners in Tarambota appears to be highly organized.   As Deputy Interior Minister Ruben Vargas stated: “this is an activity that’s equally or even more lucrative than drug trafficking.”

Is the Peruvian government doing enough against illegal mining? Let us know what you think here at Living in Peru.

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Mike Dreckschmidt

Mike grew up and eventually attended university in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He graduated in Integrative Leadership Studies with an emphasis in Urban and Regional Planning and has been a part of planning projects in three different countries. Mike’s passion is reading; he devours both literature and nonfiction. His favorite author is Peru’s own Julio Ramón Ribeyro.