Peru’s military tries to curb illegal gold mining in Amazon

  • In this April 1, 2019 photo, soldiers wait for the arrival of a helicopter bringing supplies and replacements, on a makeshift airstrip of the Balata police and military base in Peru’s Tambopata province. Peru has installed military bases in the province in hopes of curbing not just illegal mining but also human trafficking and other associated crimes. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

  • In this March 27, 2019 photo, “Operation Mercury” soldiers patrol on motorbikes an area once used by illegal miners, in Peru’s Tambopata province. Peruvian police and soldiers search for and destroy equipment used by illegal gold miners in a part of the Amazon rainforest where the mining transformed dense foliage into a desert pocked with dead trees and toxic pools. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

  • This April 3, 2019 photo shows an aerial view of the Mega 12 police and military base in Peru’s Tambopata province. Peru’s government launched early this year an operation called “Operation Mercury”, in which policemen and military troops built makeshift bases inside the Amazon jungle to chase away thousands of illegal miners who deforested the tropical forests in search for gold. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

LA PAMPA, Peru — By day, Peruvian police and soldiers search for and destroy equipment used by illegal gold miners in a part of the Amazon rainforest where mining has transformed once-dense foliage into a desert pocked with dead trees and toxic pools. As night falls, they play cards and soccer, call family from their remote outpost or have a medic pluck burrowing parasites from their feet.

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