Mexico launches special guard force to protect mining companies from drug cartels
Gold and silver mines in Mexico have been forced to make extortion payments, reports say
Mexico is now deploying guards equipped with assault rifles to help protect mining companies from attacks by drug cartels.
The government force launched Monday and contains the first 118 graduates of a special training course, the Associated Press says.
Public Safety Secretary Alfonso Durazo said “this will help resolve the attacks by organized crime in this sector of the economy.”
Reports have emerged from Mexico that foreign gold and silver mines were being forced to make extortion payments to drug gangs, according to the Associated Press. In past years, gangs have also stolen minerals or semi-refined metals directly from the mines.
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In 2015, an organized crime gang robbed almost 10 pounds of gold-silver mix from employees at a large silver and gold mine in northern Mexico. The Fresnillo mining company said the robbery occurred near its Herradura mine in the border state of Sonora. The company said armed men pulled over a company truck and stole the metals, but none of its employees were injured.
The Fresnillo mining company also said the robbery was carried out by “organized crime,” a phrase commonly used in Mexico to refer to drug cartels.
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In the western state of Michoacan, the Knights Templar cartel and La Familia gang got involved in exporting shipments of iron ore between 2010 and 2014.
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And in 2018, Canada’s Pan American Silver Corp. temporarily cut back some operations at its mine in northern Mexico due to safety concerns.
The company said employees have had security incidents on roads leading to the mine in a remote part of Chihuahua state, a region plagued by drug cartels. At one point, employees were holed up at the mine, afraid to leave because of threats by armed groups, and some employees were evacuated on private planes.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.