In a surprise raid, about 1,500 police and troops dynamited $20 million worth of heavy machinery as Peru's government dialed up a crackdown on illegal gold mining that has badly scarred the ecologically rich southeastern jungle region of Madre de Dios.Madre de Dios state has an estimated 40,000 illegal miners, most centered near the commercially vital Interoceanic Highway that links the Pacific Ocean with Brazil.
They use tons of mercury to bind the gold flecks they dig up, and have ravaged forests and poisoned rivers in a bio-diverse region that is also home to tribes living in voluntary isolation. Illegal mining accounts for about 20 percent of Peru's gold exports, and most miners are poor migrants from the Andean highlands. By cracking down, the government is toying with a powder keg, some Peruvians fear.
Text from AP news story, Peru Security Forces Trash Illegal Mining Machines, By Frank Bajak
Lead Image Caption:Machinery used for illegal mining burns after authorities blew it up in Huepetuhe district in Peru's Madre de Dios region in Peru, Monday, April 28, 2014. Some 1,500 soldiers, police and marines have begun destroying illegal gold mining machinery in Peru’s southeastern jungle region of Madre de Dios. Authorities began enforcing a ban on illegal mining Monday in the Huepetuhe district. They had given the state’s illegal miners until April 19 to get legal or halt operations. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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