Illegal Gold Mines Were Just Blown to Pieces in the Amazon

Aerial footage shows a number of improvised mines being blown up in the jungle. 
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Screen grabs from footage of the explosions detonated by the Colombian government in the Amazon.

Nearly 20 illegal gold mines were blown up by the Colombian and Brazilian authorities in the Amazon this week, part of an ongoing attempt by both governments to combat an illicit trade that pollutes and degrades the area’s natural habitat.

Aerial footage provided by the Colombian military shows a number of improvised mines in an area in the far south, close to the country’s shared border with Brazil. 

Their corrugated iron roofs burst into flames as explosions set by the military detonate in the surrounding green jungle, blowing to smithereens mines that were producing some $1.5 million in gold a month, according to official estimates. Both the Brazilian and Colombian security forces also destroyed digging equipment and other tools used to mine gold.

Illegal gold mining has been on the rise in Colombia, and according to some sources generates $2.5 billion a year, and is more lucrative than the country’s illegal cocaine trade

Its networks are connected to other organized crime activities, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

“We found that this type of mining is linked to various crimes … including money laundering, corruption, and human trafficking carried out by organized crime groups,” Candice Welsch, the regional representative for the body in the Andean and Southern Cone regions, said last year.