HomeNewsA Toxic Trade: Illegal Mining in Colombia's Pacific Region
NEWS

A Toxic Trade: Illegal Mining in Colombia's Pacific Region

COLOMBIA / 11 MAR 2021 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

Forests in Colombia are being ravaged by illegal mining, a criminal economy that has come to rival the drug trade for profits.

In 2015, the illegal gold trade in Colombia was worth an estimated 7 billion pesos, or about $2.4 billion, a year. Since then, the price of gold has skyrocketed, making illegal gold even more attractive to irregular armed actors of all stripes, from gangs to guerrillas. Gold is also easier to launder.

InSight Crime has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to study the criminal activities driving deforestation, forest degradation and biodiversity loss in Colombia's Amazon and Pacific regions. The project -- titled “Transparent Governance of Natural Resources” and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) -- explores illegal mining, which is increasingly a central revenue stream for armed groups.

SEE ALSO: Organized Crime and the Environment in Latin America: A Fatal Encounter

Also partnering on the project are Transparency for Colombia (Transparencia por Colombia), a branch of Transparency International, and the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (Fundación para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sostenible – FCDS), which is focused on Colombia’s Amazon region.

To make way for illicit mining operations, massive deforestation occurs before mercury and other chemicals are used to extricate gold ore, polluting rivers and intoxicating wildlife. While profiting directly from the sale of illegal gold, criminal groups also use the trade to launder money derived from drug trafficking.

This video explores the role that established criminal organizations play in illegal mining, along with how corruption underpins the lucrative trade’s operation. It reveals the devastating impact illegal mining is having on Colombia’s forests, biodiversity and communities, and shares how such operations can be combatted.

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

COCA / 20 OCT 2022

Colombian coca cultivation and potential cocaine production has hit a record high. How will this impact the government's drugs policy?…

COCAINE / 29 SEP 2021

Accused paramilitary drug lord “Memo Fantasma,” or “Will the Ghost,” has petitioned a judge to be let out of a…

COLOMBIA / 21 APR 2022

Everything from turtles, iguanas and parrots is trafficked through Cartagena, Colombia's illegal wildlife trade.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…