Sport Gold: vast traffic dismantled in Costa Rica

11:40  21 august  2020
11:40  21 august  2020 Source:   lexpress.fr

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Or : un vaste trafic démantelé au Costa Rica © Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg via Getty Images Gold: vast traffic dismantled in Costa Rica A network of gold smuggling illegally mined in Costa Rica and exported to the United States was dismantled by the police. 2.5 tonnes of gold have been exported to the United States, mainly to the cities of Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, since the trafficking began in the spring of 2019.

The Costa Rican judicial police have just signed a nice haul! A smuggling network of or illegally mined in this Central American country and exported to the United States for nearly $ 60 million has been dismantled. Since April 2019, when the investigation began, 2.5 tons of gold have been exported to the United States, mainly to the cities of Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, reported Walter Espinoza, director. of the judicial police of Costa Rica .

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The trafficking could also have been used for money laundering because the precious metal was declared at a lower value than the market, according to the Costa Rican prosecution. Much of the ore was mined from the Crucitas deposit (north), near the Nicaraguan border. The Canadian mining company Infinito Gold had planned to exploit it, but the Costa Rican justice banned it to protect the environment. However, the deposit, spanning 70 hectares, has been overrun by underground miners who mine for gold causing severe environmental damage through the use of cyanide and mercury to refine the ore.

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The police have carried out several operations in Crucitas to drive out illegal miners, many of them Nicaraguan migrants, but they then return very quickly on the deposit to resume their activity. In April 2019, the airport police detected "a disproportionate increase" in the quantities of gold exported from the capital's international airport, and alerted his colleagues in the judicial police. "We were then able to establish that an organized group was working to get large quantities of gold out of our country," explained the director of the judicial police.

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The dismantled network was devoted to the purchase of the precious metal directly from the clandestine miners of Crucitas. They also bought, to a lesser extent, gold illegally mined from a deposit located in the Corcovado Natural National Park, on the Pacific coast, in the southwest of Costa Rica . The network then took care of the export of gold, melted into ingots. Thirty-three searches were carried out in "several parts of the country" during this "large-scale" operation, explained Mr. Espinoza. At least 27 suspected traffickers have been arrested and charged in particular for mining offenses and environmental damage. Police seized gold bars, cash and drugs, the prosecution said.

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The mine project in Crucitas had encountered strong opposition from residents and defenders of the environment which brought several legal actions, including before the Constitutional Council. Costa Rica's parliament banned surface mining in 2010, shortly after the Crucitas deposit was canceled to Canadian group Infinito Gold. The project was approved following the lifting, under the presidency of Oscar Arias (2006-2010), of a moratorium on surface mining.

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