HomeNewsBriefIllegal Mining May Collapse Colombia's Cerro Mono Ecosystem
BRIEF

Illegal Mining May Collapse Colombia's Cerro Mono Ecosystem

COLOMBIA / 21 MAR 2019 BY CAMILO CARRANZA EN

Colombian authorities have discovered that an important water resource is under threat from illegal mining in a rural area of Cúcuta, revealing that the region is dealing with far more than the mediatized border crisis with Venezuela.

In a visit to Palmarito, in the north of Cúcuta, a group of environmentalists discovered approximately 20 mining camps operating illegally in the rural area of Cerro Mono, which covers at least 515 hectares.

Cerro Mono is a mountainous region that is home to at least 10 water springs which ensure the longevity of Caño Barrancas, a tributary that supplies water to more than 3,000 families in the region. According to César Augusto Ortega, the mining and hydrocarbons coordinator for the Regional Autonomous Corporation of the Northeast Border (Corponor), illegal mining is destroying the water springs due to the tunnels that are being excavated to extract rich coal deposits in the sector.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Illegal Mining

In an attempt to contain the environmental damage, multiple organizations, including officials from the city of Cúcuta, have enacted initial measures to deal with the ongoing situation in the region. Such measures will further examinate the impacted area, which will then provide local authorities with a report to punish and convict those responsible for the devastation caused.

InSight Crime Analysis

Cúcuta is known for its proximity with Venezuela and as a hotspot for illicit economies such as human smuggling, drug trafficking and contraband. But the latest news of illegal mining in Cerro Mono shines a light on a criminal activity that has been unfolding in the shadows of the Venezuelan border crisis.

Illegal mining for gold and other resources has been well documented in other areas of Colombia such as Antioquia, Chocó, and the Catatumbo area of Norte de Santander. However, not much attention had been focused on Cerro Mono, partly due to the focus on the other illicit activities that are prevalent in Cúcuta.

The sudden attention to the ecological crisis in the region came after more than 300 farmers held a demonstration at the city hall of Cúcuta in early March. This was a rare sight, as often local groups typically benefit from the illegal practices for sustainability.

According to the Colombian government, illegal mining is responsible for almost 8 percent of all deforestation in the country. It was believed that illicit coal mining was concentrated in the area of Catatumbo, but clearly, the practice is now moving closer to the biggest city in the department.

SEE ALSO: After the Gold Rush: Colombian Town Counts Cost of Illegal Mining Boom

InSight Crime recently reported on Colombian illegal mining and the use of heavy machinery that causes irreparable environmental damage. With a water supply shortage of at least 50 percent in the region, it is clear to see why the local residents have firmly taken a stand against illegal mining and its catastrophic damage.

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 / 8 JUL 2011

Almost 5,000 people are members of criminal gangs in Colombia, according to a recent police report on gang activity…

COLOMBIA / 30 JAN 2018

In a sign of waning confidence in the negotiations that could lead to their unraveling, Colombia's government has suspended peace…

COLOMBIA / 10 JAN 2014

Colombia's most prominent criminal organization, the Urabeños, have publically claimed responsibility for a major decline in murders in Medellin in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…