BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Nov. 12, 2015–Belizean authorities who patrol the western border region of the Chiquibul along with Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) have detained two more illegal gold panners in the Ceibo Grande Creek area of the southern Chiquibul.
Reports to Amandala are that on Monday, November 9, Andres Ortis Ordones, 23, and Isidro Garcia Roque, 43, both of La Esmeralda, a village in Petén, Guatemala, were detained in a joint operation by a patrol team, included military, police and support personnel.
Ordones and Roque were detained roughly 6½ miles (10.5 kilometers) inside Belizean territory.
“These individuals were found in their hut with panning equipment consisting of pans and vials. Nearby their hut, the high impact of their activities on the headwaters, namely soil erosion, defacing of the park, garbage pollution and the contaminants on the stream were highly visible,” FCD’s Executive Director, Rafael Manzanero, said.
The two Guatemalans were consequently charged for illegal entry, and they may face additional charges of defacing a protected area and operating without a permit in a national park.
Manzanero notes that it tends to take more than a day to walk these illegal gold panners out to a location where then they are transferred on a tractor and ultimately on a pick-up to the San Ignacio Police Station.
“Apart from the strenuous situation, it is also an expensive endeavor, since many personnel have to be involved and extraction from the distant and rugged area is extremely difficult, even with heavy machinery,” he added.
Gold panning in the highlands of the Chiquibul Forest has been a difficult illicit activity to control over the last four years, and it remains one of two high-level factors degrading the ecosystem of the Chiquibul National Park, Manzanero explains.
He added that, “Gold panners from Guatemala have moved further into the highlands and with more enforcement presence, they tend to devise adaptive methods to elude the authorities.”