HomeNewsBriefColombia Forms New Joint Unit to Combat Illegal Mining
BRIEF

Colombia Forms New Joint Unit to Combat Illegal Mining

COLOMBIA / 15 OCT 2012 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

Colombia has created a special unit comprised of nearly 400 police, military, and prosecutors to combat illegal mining in Antioquia province, an indication of the growing importance of the crime as a source of financing for the country's criminal groups.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon announced that a group of 386 military soldiers and police would be sent to the municipalities of Remedios, Segovia, Vegachi, and Yali to halt illegal mining activities in northeast Antioquia, one of the provinces most affected by unliscenced mine, reported EFE. Police would go into the areas first and receive military support, Pinzon said, adding that “even more important” was the addition of two specialized prosecutors who would work to bring the criminals to justice after their arrest.

Groups like the Urabeños and the Rastrojos, as well as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in particular are involved in the area’s illegal mining activities, according to EFE. The fight against illegal mining would therefore also help in the fight against drug trafficking, Pinzon said. He added that the government had already halted production at six illegal mines in the area, arresting 14 people and seizing three backhoes.

The formation of this special unit comes 10 months after President Juan Manuel Santos announced that illegal mining would be a top priority for his administration.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Colombian government has said that criminal groups control illegal mines in half the country, either through the extortion of miners operating without licenses, or through their direct involvement in mining operations.  As Colombia continues to crack down on drug trafficking, illegal organizations have diversified their financing sources to activities like illegal mining. It’s estimated that illegal mining now makes up a third of the FARC’s revenue, for instance, after drug trafficking and other forms of extortion. The FARC's 36th Front in Anori, , Antioquia, for example, charge around $1,600 for each backhoe entering its territory and around $530 per month for upkeep.

In April 2012, Colombia’s departing national police chief, Oscar Naranjo, called illegal mining the biggest challenge facing his successor. Part of that challenge arises from the fact that Colombia’s legal framework to prosecute illicit mining is not as extensive as the framework in place for drug traffickers. The Prosecutor General's Office created an environmental crime office in January which tackles illegal mining in an effort to address this problem.

Because police are traditionally charged with going after neo-paramilitary criminal gangs like the Urabeños and Rastrojos, while the military is tasked with confronting rebel guerrilla groups like the FARC, the creation of this joint unit of police, military, and specialized prosecutors could help streamline the fight against illegal mining.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 12 JAN 2015

Latin America is considered the world's most violent region, and 2014 did little to change that. While…

COLOMBIA / 15 MAR 2011

With talk in Medellin about creating a cashless public transport system and moves in Bogota towards installing cell phone signal…

ARGENTINA / 4 NOV 2011

An Argentine court has sentenced a former Colombian beauty queen to six years and eight months in prison…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…