AP NEWS

Ecuador sends police, army to crack down on big illegal mine

July 3, 2019
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This photo released by Ecuador's National Police shows the settlement of an illegal gold mine during a police raid in Buenos Aires, Ecuador, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Independent miners have flocked to this area since gold was discovered in late 2017, before organized crime groups moved in to take control and, according to police, expand their list of crimes, including homicide to extortion to trafficking in people. (Ecuador National Police via AP)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador’s government sent about 2,400 police officers and soldiers Tuesday to crack down on a major illegal gold mine that is dominated by heavily armed organized crime groups.

Interior and Police Minister María Paula Romo said the magnitude of the problem made the raid necessary. President Lenin Moreno declared a state of emergency in the region Monday.

Independent miners have flocked to the Buenos Aires mine area since gold was discovered there in late 2017. Organized crime groups moved in to take control and police say they have seen an expanding list of crimes, including homicide to extortion to trafficking in people.

As many as 10,000 people now live in the mine area, many in a settlement known as “the plastic city” for the materials used to cover the shacks.

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