Colombia’s attorney general’s office announced this summer that illegal mining and deforestation in Colombia has resulted in the loss of at least 7,585 hectares, or 18,743 acres, as of June.
In the fight against such activities, prosecutors have carried out 48 enforcement operations leading to the capture of 117 suspects across the departments of Antioquia, Atlántico, Bolívar, Boyacá, Caquetá, Cundinamarca, Chocó, Córdoba, Meta, Santander, Norte de Santander, Valle del Cauca and Sucre.
“In this work, the assets of those involved in environmental crimes have been persecuted. Until now, measures have been imposed with fines for extinction of the right of ownership of assets valued at almost 3 billion pesos,” said Prosecutor Francisco Barbosa Delgado before leaving office with the change of administrations.
“21 of these procedures, which leave 55 prosecuted, have been directed against the predators of the Amazon, the natural reserve areas and the National Natural Parks,” said the Attorney General. In a statement, he highlighted one particular operation where through the Specialized Directorate against Human Rights Violations along with the Directorate of Carabineros of the National Police and the National Army, raided an illegal mine associated with the Clan del Golfo mafia group on a tributary of the Atrato River, between the district of Tutunendo and Quibdó in the Chocó department.
“During the procedure, a serious impact was found on the water source, product of the dumping of arsenic, mercury, nickel and lead, among other toxic elements used to obtain gold; as well as the transformation of the soil and the destruction of the vegetation with heavy machinery,” said Barbosa, who added that eight excavators and three pumps belonging were captured and destroyed.
Headline photo: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, by Loren Moss