The dream of getting gold that can change their lives became a nightmare for four citizens. They are in prison, they have lost their jobs and their families are alone.
Santiago V., Jorge R., Mauricio P. and Walter P. are the first to be sentenced in Imbabura for the crime of illegal activity of mining resources, dictated by the local Criminal Court.
Santiago V. belonged to the Army when he was arrested and is now sentenced to five years in prison. He acknowledged being the owner of gold material, which he transported in 252 packages in a military truck, via Ibarra-San Lorenzo, in September 2017.
The others, accused of being accomplices, were sentenced to 20 months in prison, on 18 last June.
The mining activity is relatively new in the Sierra Norte. There are 35 concessions in Imbabura and Carchi 17 that have been granted by the State and are under exploration, explains Santiago Chamorro, deputy secretary of industry Zone 1. But alongside the mining law came informal miners.
Most of the latter were concentrated in the La Merced parish of Buenos Aires, Urcuquí canton. The news about the discovery of a vein, in the middle of the previous year, reached the ears of the miners.
It is always so. You hear about a new mine and we all go there, says Segundo Castro, a native of Zaruma (El Oro). These adventurers say they can ‘smell’ the metal.
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