Colombia Closes 56 Illegal Gold Mines


"Guerrilla forces accused of financing operations through illegal mining."

Colombian authorities over the past four months have closed 56 illegal gold mines and arrested 573 people, a police report stated on Monday.

The report released on Monday said that "46 illegal deposits (have been closed, and) 573 people were arrested," but it clarified that the majority of those people have been released on bail.

It added that 86 excavators, 88 motorized pumps, 26 dump trucks and 2 dredgers have been seized, along with 17 firearms and more than 112 million pesos (about $60,000) in cash.

The gold mines that were closed are located in 18 of the country's 32 provinces.

The report said that the most recent gold mining operations to be broken up were being carried in the southwestern province of Tolima, where two mines were closed and 15 people arrested.

On the weekend, President Juan Manuel Santos said that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas finance their operations by illegally mining gold and they even pay for weapons shipments with the metal, according to emails found on computers owned by former FARC military chief Jorge Briceņo, known as "Mono Jojoy," who was killed in a military operation on Sept. 22 in a jungle area near La Macarena.

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