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"Illegal mining and its network of associated crimes must be stopped!"

Ecuador president Lenín Moreno has declared a state of emergency in the country’s north, to put a stop to the “serious commotion” caused by illegal mining and linked crimes including human trafficking.
"Illegal mining and its network of associated crimes must be stopped!" "Illegal mining and its network of associated crimes must be stopped!" "Illegal mining and its network of associated crimes must be stopped!" "Illegal mining and its network of associated crimes must be stopped!" "Illegal mining and its network of associated crimes must be stopped!"

Hundreds of police and soldiers entered the area in Ecuador’s north at dawn yesterday

Staff reporter

"Illegal mining and its network of associated crimes must be stopped!" Moreno tweeted a short while ago.

In a joint operation, 1,200 police, 1,200 soldiers plus a team of 20 prosecutors entered the La Merced parish of the Buenos Aires region in the Imbabura province at dawn yesterday.

Bloomberg noted the Buenos Aires area was part of a concession owned by Canada's Hanrine and just south of SolGold's majority-owned Cascabel project.

A research note last month from the National Bank of Canada had pointed out government support for the country's fledgling official mining sector, saying it planned to grow mining from 1.55% of GDP to 4% by 2021.

In a translated statement, Ecuador's government said police had identified at least 11 crimes parallel to illegal mining, including homicides, sexual and labour exploitation, human trafficking, tax evasion, money laundering, smuggling and possession of weapons and explosives.

Police had last year seized 3461.38 tons of mineralised material, dismantled 92 criminal groups and arrested 809 people, authorities said.

The state of emergency action follows the Democratic Republic of Congo reportedly vowing days ago to remove all illegal miners from a Glencore subsidiary's copper-cobalt mine after 43 died at a cave-in on Thursday.