Colombian Armed Forces Disrupt Illegal FARC Mining Sites

Colombian Armed Forces Disrupt Illegal FARC Mining Sites

By Dialogo
June 05, 2015





The Colombian National Army, in cooperation with the Navy, the Air Force, the National Police, and the Attorney General’s Office, intervened in 63 illegal gold and tungsten mines in support of early May's Operation Anostomus.

The mines -- largely located in protected areas in the departments of Guainía and Vichada -- were a major financial venture for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Eastern Bloc, generating almost $8 million a month in profits for the organization.

“Given what we’ve managed to establish, and the work of the Attorney General Office's Technical Investigation Corps (CTI, for its Spanish acronym), the FARC are heavily involved with illegal mining,” Brigadier General Adelmo Orlando Fajardo, commander of the Army’s 8th Division and head of the operation, said May 11th. “They are the ones carrying out extortions and they are the owners of many of these businesses.”

Those businesses were the target of Operation Anostomus, named after a small fish that lives in the rivers of eastern Colombia. The result of a three-week interagency coordination effort, the mission focused on Cerro Tigre, Campo Alegre, and the Serranía of Naquén -- three areas where FARC’s Acacio Medina Front, the 16th Front, and the Urias Rondón Mobile Company controlled illegal mining hubs.

Military and law enforcement authorities used eight planes and eight Army helicopters to transport Special Forces units and about 600 Troops and police officers to remote sites in the middle of the Colombian jungle. There, the security forces captured 59 men and destroyed nine camps. They also demolished eight laboratories, which were used to process gold and tungsten, two of FARC’s principal sources of illegal revenue.

Illegal mining is more profitable than drug trafficking


“The FARC is an illegal mining organization,” said Navy Counterintelligence Captain Edwin Gómez.

Indeed, illegal mining has become one of the main sources of income for the FARC and other criminal organizations, said Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón. The Unit of Information and Financial Analysis (UIAF) estimates that the illegal mining business accounts for approximately $4 billion a year; by comparison, drug trafficking accounts for about $12 billion.

The FARC’s 29th Front, for example, was earning around $50 million a year through a series of illegal mines in the department of Cauca until March; then, another joint operation disrupted their business.

The organization has turned to illegal mining to fund its terrorist operations because that enterprise is far more lucrative and not as dangerous as drug trafficking, Captain Gómez said. In 2013, organized crime groups spent about $540 to produce a kilogram of cocaine. That kilogram could be sold for around $2,580, guaranteeing a profit of about $2,040 per kilogram.

Producing a kilogram of gold, meanwhile, costs about $16,000; the kilogram of gold could be sold for about $35,000, yielding a profit of $21,000. That profit difference is why the problem of illegal mining is escalating, Capt. Gómez said.

Financial exploitation and health problems


The funding those profits provide for FARC isn't the only problem associated with illegal mining -- it also leads to a wide range of other criminal activities.

In fact, the Colombian Penal Code associates at least 21 crimes with illegal mining, ranging from environmental contamination to extortion, money laundering, human trafficking and slavery. People working in the mines seldom receive a fixed income. Rather, they depend on what FARC guerrillas call the “happy hour”: a couple of hours every week or every other week in which FARC or whomever is running the mines allows the workers to keep whatever they find. At other times, miners are forced to work in brutal conditions in order to gather enough to survive.

Troops who participated in Operation Anostomus found evidence of the economic mistreatment of people who work in the mines. A local store, for example, accepted kilograms of rock from the mine instead of paper currency.. One kilogram could be exchanged for the same weight in pasta or rice, a block of butter, toothpaste, or a pack of maxi pads. A watch could be bought for five kilograms of rock, a lollipop for two, and a large thermos bottle for 15.

Apart from the financial exploitation, Capt. Gómez said, miners suffer from several health problems caused by working with or drinking water polluted by chemicals such as mercury, a known carcinogen. Clinics are nonexistent in the illegal mining areas, so mortality rates are very high; landslides and accidents are common.

Illegal mining is not only risky for miners, but the practice can also have disastrous effects on the environment: it causes soil and water contamination, land erosion, deforestation, and the loss of fauna and flora. Consequently, authorities are determined to put a stop to the practice.

“We are analyzing the situation in this region,” Brig. Gen. Fajardo said. “We are trying to secure medical and institutional support in order to bring progress [to the area]… to assist the community with this criminal mining program, with this human trafficking and environmental problem that is causing a lot of damage.”




The Colombian National Army, in cooperation with the Navy, the Air Force, the National Police, and the Attorney General’s Office, intervened in 63 illegal gold and tungsten mines in support of early May's Operation Anostomus.

The mines -- largely located in protected areas in the departments of Guainía and Vichada -- were a major financial venture for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Eastern Bloc, generating almost $8 million a month in profits for the organization.

“Given what we’ve managed to establish, and the work of the Attorney General Office's Technical Investigation Corps (CTI, for its Spanish acronym), the FARC are heavily involved with illegal mining,” Brigadier General Adelmo Orlando Fajardo, commander of the Army’s 8th Division and head of the operation, said May 11th. “They are the ones carrying out extortions and they are the owners of many of these businesses.”

Those businesses were the target of Operation Anostomus, named after a small fish that lives in the rivers of eastern Colombia. The result of a three-week interagency coordination effort, the mission focused on Cerro Tigre, Campo Alegre, and the Serranía of Naquén -- three areas where FARC’s Acacio Medina Front, the 16th Front, and the Urias Rondón Mobile Company controlled illegal mining hubs.

Military and law enforcement authorities used eight planes and eight Army helicopters to transport Special Forces units and about 600 Troops and police officers to remote sites in the middle of the Colombian jungle. There, the security forces captured 59 men and destroyed nine camps. They also demolished eight laboratories, which were used to process gold and tungsten, two of FARC’s principal sources of illegal revenue.

Illegal mining is more profitable than drug trafficking


“The FARC is an illegal mining organization,” said Navy Counterintelligence Captain Edwin Gómez.

Indeed, illegal mining has become one of the main sources of income for the FARC and other criminal organizations, said Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón. The Unit of Information and Financial Analysis (UIAF) estimates that the illegal mining business accounts for approximately $4 billion a year; by comparison, drug trafficking accounts for about $12 billion.

The FARC’s 29th Front, for example, was earning around $50 million a year through a series of illegal mines in the department of Cauca until March; then, another joint operation disrupted their business.

The organization has turned to illegal mining to fund its terrorist operations because that enterprise is far more lucrative and not as dangerous as drug trafficking, Captain Gómez said. In 2013, organized crime groups spent about $540 to produce a kilogram of cocaine. That kilogram could be sold for around $2,580, guaranteeing a profit of about $2,040 per kilogram.

Producing a kilogram of gold, meanwhile, costs about $16,000; the kilogram of gold could be sold for about $35,000, yielding a profit of $21,000. That profit difference is why the problem of illegal mining is escalating, Capt. Gómez said.

Financial exploitation and health problems


The funding those profits provide for FARC isn't the only problem associated with illegal mining -- it also leads to a wide range of other criminal activities.

In fact, the Colombian Penal Code associates at least 21 crimes with illegal mining, ranging from environmental contamination to extortion, money laundering, human trafficking and slavery. People working in the mines seldom receive a fixed income. Rather, they depend on what FARC guerrillas call the “happy hour”: a couple of hours every week or every other week in which FARC or whomever is running the mines allows the workers to keep whatever they find. At other times, miners are forced to work in brutal conditions in order to gather enough to survive.

Troops who participated in Operation Anostomus found evidence of the economic mistreatment of people who work in the mines. A local store, for example, accepted kilograms of rock from the mine instead of paper currency.. One kilogram could be exchanged for the same weight in pasta or rice, a block of butter, toothpaste, or a pack of maxi pads. A watch could be bought for five kilograms of rock, a lollipop for two, and a large thermos bottle for 15.

Apart from the financial exploitation, Capt. Gómez said, miners suffer from several health problems caused by working with or drinking water polluted by chemicals such as mercury, a known carcinogen. Clinics are nonexistent in the illegal mining areas, so mortality rates are very high; landslides and accidents are common.

Illegal mining is not only risky for miners, but the practice can also have disastrous effects on the environment: it causes soil and water contamination, land erosion, deforestation, and the loss of fauna and flora. Consequently, authorities are determined to put a stop to the practice.

“We are analyzing the situation in this region,” Brig. Gen. Fajardo said. “We are trying to secure medical and institutional support in order to bring progress [to the area]… to assist the community with this criminal mining program, with this human trafficking and environmental problem that is causing a lot of damage.”
It's not clear why the army, navy and police, with so much experience and a wealth of weapons and several hundreds of thousands of trained men have not been able to beat the enemies of the Colombian people and we're subjected to any kind of mistreatment that comes to them. What is going on? The Santos administration shouldn't be negotiating peace with the FARC terrorists, since all the FARC does is to sow violence, evil and many deaths in the country. We need a strong standing government like the Defense Minister who is stepping down, last name Pinzon. Communism, I say they are behind the power; that's why they don't surrender their weapons. They're preparing even more to put an end to whoever crosses their path. Santo needs to come down from the clouds because the guerrilla forces are like wolves who come down from the mountain to attack the sheep. The government knows where they're hidden, and they don't put an end to this plague. All the environmental damage the FARC do and are they too protected by the tax man's alternative sentences? NO CORRUPTION IN THE HIGHER COMMAND, THE MILITARY FORCES ARE OUR PRIDE. STRENGTH AND WISDOM TO ALL OUR HONEST COMPATRIOTS. War is for the poor, the rich rest, peace is the way. AS LONG AS HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT EDUCATED TO TAKE CARE OF THE ECOSYSTEM, ALL THE FIREMEN IN THE UNIVERSE WON'T BE ENOUGH, Governments of the great civilization are destroying the planet with this all over the world already half the planet is formed by a great layer of cement which is blocking the earth's ability to breathe they put an end to oxygen which leads to the glacier polar caps melting and soon all material and food will end because all the earth will be a layer of cement and not earth From Bolivia I too work in the mines congratulations to the president of Colombia and to all the forces who participate in this operation. Working in the mines under those conditions is of great concern. Many thanks to the El Tiempo publishing house for its efficient communication of the news to all the world, it's our beloved newspaper at all times.
We speak of peace and want to achieve it, peace depends on you. We value our Armed Forces who are our great support. MAY THE GOOD GOD OF PEACE BLESS US. I ask you to please tell me the news regarding Mr. Luis Waldo Guarin to please communicate with his sister Carolina urgently, urgently, it's a matter of life or death. Thank you It's very good the police capture the criminals Angelo...People just talk but don't understand that our planet is being destroyed. The fauna disappear kilometer by kilometer each year and no one does anything to avoid dramatic deforestation...if we don't avoid all of this in time our children will be the ones who will suffer global catastrophe.... As long as this corruption that has infected every branch of government in my Colombia doesn't end, and we ask God for the wisdom to elect good leaders this will continue as is and worse Why do they still have to come from the U.S. and you can't do it????? Because it's not in the best interest of the gentlemen running the war Sadly, dark evil forces have infiltrated administrative structures which they use to give uncouth indications against the public forces when it takes action against those with no state. IT'S GOOD ALREADY THAT THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT GETS INVOLVED IN THIS MATTER. THE FARC HAVE DONE WHATEVER THEY PLEASE WHENEVER THEY PLEASE. THEY KIDNAP, KILL, ENSLAVE, RECRUIT, LAUNDER MONEY, ETC. War and more war Colombians keep in mind that the war is fought with more jobs, more education, more opportunities...not with rifles or bombs .. How many children of Colombian families are in the FARC and ELN out of necessity more than out of an ideal that has them take up weapons? Colombia, think about it. IT'S VERY GOOD RELEASE ALL THE BIRDS HELD IN CAPTIVITY. GOOD FOR YOU ARMY Good for them in a joint effort by our Armed Forces. We will put an end to that group of narco-terrorists who steal from the people to use the profits to destroy the country and assassinate left and right. Together we will defeat the evil brought on by those bandits. Tell us about a mass murder that happened in CANADA to know what happened. Thank you very much I think it is very good that they release the caged birds and much care is had with the trees they are the ones who purify the air we breathe each instant. As if it were easy to overcome these things regarding the wild and fauna I would like you to report on everything that happens in Putumayo. It's not the poor little animals' fault they're so beautiful. Who would like their child put in a cage just because he or she is cute? Let us not buy animals to have them tied up or in cages and you'll see how the business dies. Very good This is a lawless government. They want to do whatever they please. I'm going to criticize you, since you write so much on military matters What a good article. too long Not very interesting
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