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

COLOMBIA / 21 NOV 2012

Recordings of Colombian drug trafficker Daniel Barrera, alias "El Loco," speaking to Colombian and Venezuelan authorities shed light…

COLOMBIA / 9 AUG 2011

The strategic Colombian peninsula of La Guajira, a sought after departure point for drugs heading across the Caribbean, may be…

COLOMBIA / 24 SEP 2012

The fall of Daniel "El Loco" Barrera has left his drug empire in Colombia's Eastern Plains up for…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…