Published On: Mon, Jan 15th, 2018

Large-scale gold smuggling from Venezuela

Smuggle-Venezuela-CuracaoWILLEMSTAD - Under the watchful eye of the army, thousands of kilos of illegal gold are smuggled monthly from Venezuela to the Caribbean, including Curaçao and Aruba.

The Dutch investigative journalist and international criminologist Bram Ebus reports this to NPO Radio 1 at Bureau Buitenland (VPRO). Ebus recently researched illegal gold mining in the south of Venezuela.

Dozens of planes

According to Ebus, dozens of planes are involved in the flights and they fly "24 hours a day". The flights take place under their noses or on behalf of the army that, according to Alcalá, earns a lot of money.

Ebus received the information from, among others, the Venezuelan general of Cliver Alcalá.

The smugglers themselves are government officials or are very close to politics and the army, according to Alcalá. The army then ensures that the aircraft remain off the radar. For example, 80 percent of Venezuelan gold goes out of the country, according to Alcalá thousands of kilos per month.

Salient

The revelations are salient in the light of the conflict between Venezuela and the Dutch islands. Exactly the smuggling of gold, petrol and food to Aruba and Curaçao last week was for the Venezuelan government reason to close the borders with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The country is in a deep crisis, almost everything is scarce, and according to President Nicolás Maduro, that is because of the smugglers. Last Friday Maduro decided to extend the closure with a further three days.

Detained

During a period of three months, Ebus regularly visited the Arco Minero mining area to investigate the consequences of illegal mining. In September he was detained by the National Guard who held him for 24 hours. Later they escorted him to the illegal mines. The conclusions of Ebus will be published internationally on the environmental journalistic platform Mongabay.

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