BOGOTA(Scrap Monster): Coca production has been replaced by illegal gold mining as the source of income for Colombian mafia. The mafia is making $450,000 (800m pesos) a week from illegal gold mining, according to estimates.
Colombia has huge gold deposits, especially along the rivers that wash down from the Andes Mountains. To profit from illegal gold mining guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) are well placed.
Illegal mining, the new business interest of Columbian drug mafia has replaced coca farming as the main source of income for organized crime in eight of the country's provinces. Mines are proving lucrative and the worldwide financial crisis has kept the gold price high for years, which makes it well worth mining.
Another serious issue regarding the illegal mining is its impact on the environment. Rivers and ground water are being polluted with banned chemicals while mining. The high price of gold is also encouraging illegal mining in the country.
The influence of the mafia has become so great that around 86% of the gold mined in Colombia comes from illegal sources that do not conform to environmental standards, according to Toledo study.
The guerrillas are not just extorting money but running some mining operations themselves or demanding a percentage of all production. Gold is perfectly legal to transport and sell, unlike cocaine, which is a great advantage for the mafia.
As there are lot of benefits from the illegal mining the drug production areas are now in the phase of mining boom.
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