Ecuador: Investigation reveals illicit gold moving to U.S. on commercial flights

Posted on September 11, 2015 • Filed under: Crime, Ecuador, Latin America Mining

By Fabiola Torres López / OJO PÚBLICO While the Ecuadorian government militarizes illegal gold-mining camps to evict the small-scale miners from territories granted in concession, Guayaquil Airport is a sieve for shipments of gold of suspicious origin. After traveling to Ecuador and getting access to previously unknown records of gold exports, OjoPúblico discovered that 140 companies sent 74 tons of gold on commercial flights. The metal’s main destinations between 2011 and 2014 were US companies NTR Metals and Republic Metals Corporation. 70% of the mineral was of illicit origin or was never declared and there are indications that there have been attempts to launder some of Peru’s dirty gold through Ecuador.

In Nambija, the golden mountain that today resembles a giant crater in the midst of the Ecuadorian Amazon, the life of its inhabitants is laden with paradoxes: finding gold here and having it in your hands means being poor. Living off mining often involves dying because of it due to the dangerous and illegal way in which the metal is extracted from the galleries. “Small-scale miners just get enough to eat. Who knows where the riches go?” says Amable Agreda, one of the survivors of the landslide that in 1993 buried 500 people in this deposit located in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, on the border with Peru. Read Full Article

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