A 4-day police-led clampdown on wildcat gold miners in rainforest Madre de Dios region led to the destruction of 184 camps occupying 70,000 km of Tambopata National Reserve's buffer zone.
Conducted on July 3-6, the "Mercurio I 2017" operation was led by the Environmental Protection Unit (Direpma
) under Peruvian National Police
(PNP) General Jose Baella Malca
The said camps were surrounded by other 180 minor camps. They were all shut down.
Ministers Elsa Galarza (Environment), Ana Maria Romero-Lozada (Women and Vulnerable Populations), Gonzalo Tamayo (Energy and Mines), Salvador del Solar (Culture) and Carlos Basombrio (Interior) presented crackdown results at Interior Ministry headquarters.
"This has been one of the biggest operations against illegal mining
in recent years," Interior Minister Carlos Basombrio highlighted.
"Over a thousand Police agents took part [in the sting] to sap a crime that affects not only the country's economy, but also the victims of human trafficking and environmental pollution that come with it," he added.
Environment Minister Elsa Galarza noted the said operation would increase the number of Tambopata Reserve hectares recovered "from 75% as at December 2016 to 90% this year."
On the other hand, Women Minister Ana Maria Romero-Lozada stressed illegal mining is one of the activities driving human trafficking, and vowed further efforts to rescue victims.
Mining Minister Gonzalo Tamayo underscored government actions to reinforce formal mining, and Culture Minister Salvador del Solar addressed collateral damages to Amazon communities affected by wildcatting pollution.
A total of 32 people were detained as part of the operation: 14 for illegal mining, 5 for human trafficking and 13 who had been wanted for different offences.
In addition, agents managed to rescue 17 women and 2 underaged who had been forced into sexual slavery.