Mexico cracks down on illegal iron ore mining
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Hundreds of Mexican police, soldiers and government inspectors raided 11 iron ore yards at one of the country’s largest seaports, following revelations that drug cartels had been exporting ore to China.
Authorities seized almost 120,000 tons of ore as well as 124 bulldozers, backhoes, milling equipment and trucks as a result of Monday’s raid on at the Pacific coast seaport of Lazaro Cardenas.
Six Chinese citizens were also found at the yards; they are being investigated to determine whether they were in the country legally.
Alfredo Castillo, the federal security commissioner for western Michoacan state, said late Monday that the ore is being tested to determine which mines it came from and whether they were legally registered.
“Investigations revealed that the holding yards were being used to store a large amount of ore that could be illegal obtained,” Castillo said.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said, “From the investigations we have, it is clear that there is a very serious problem with minerals ... being trafficked.”
In November, the government took over control of the port to cut off illicit income for the Knights Templar drug cartel.
Federal officials say the Michoacan-based cartel had been mining, stealing or extorting iron ore for several years.