Ecuadorian security agents embarked on an unprecedented macro-operation against illegal mining, have taken this small parish of the Andean province of Imbabura (north) to evict thousands of opportunists called by the coveted gilt.
Considered by the authorities as the "largest gold mine in Latin America", with a perimeter of 433.7 kilometers, since the end of 2017 the mine has motivated the displacement of thousands of people of different nationalities to the region, where the illegal extraction of the precious metal.
More than 4,000 police and military agents participate in the operation that took place last Tuesday and that, according to Efe a police official, to date has been settled with 3,500 evictees, mostly Venezuelans and Colombians, a score of detainees and two bodies located in a state of decomposition.
"There are situations of human trafficking, prostitution, drug trafficking and many elements that lead to crime," Colonel Gary Arellano, police chief of the Border Contingency Unit in the neighboring province of Carchi, told Efe. Imbabura by the emergency.
It did so at the San Jerónimo checkpoint, the first large police checkpoint and the main access point to Buenos Aires and the site itself.
The head of the Ecuadorian Police confirmed that the existence of internal and transnational criminal organizations, which have become strong in the mining complex, has led to a special team of intelligence, forensic services and criminalistics stand out in the area.
The Ecuadorian government on Monday decreed the state of emergency in the region so that its forces can carry out the operation for at least 60 days in which the measure will rule, in addition to preventing the evacuees from returning to the place.
According to the data of the Police and inhabitants of the place, between 8,000 and 10,000 people had settled in different points of the exploitation, where an authentic "plastic city" was established made with booths of that material "even greater than the own Aires ".
Entire families embarked today several buses of the Ecuadorian Police in the control post of San Jerónimo, about 40 kilometers from Buenos Aires, to be transferred to the city of Ibarra.
Many of the displaced people were "very needy people who were in that sector providing work and services, complete families, children and seniors of different nationalities," said Arrellano.
The colonel said that in Ibarra an Emergency Committee has been established to assist evacuees in situations of social vulnerability.
Located at more than 2,200 meters above sea level, in a mountain of difficult access to which leads a winding dirt road, the parish of La Merced of Buenos Aires, 75 years of existence, spent in just two years of 1,800 residents to more than 10,000.
Alexandra Henríquez, a native of this small town in which the sunset is usually accompanied by an intense haze, told Efe that "before the gold rush, our little town was very quiet, we all knew each other, was supportive and welcoming".
And although he acknowledges that mining "helped economic growth a lot", at the same time it caused "a lot of insecurity and uncertainty".
But since this week, the parish is a city taken literally by the security forces of the Ecuadorian Police and Armed Forces that are visible in every corner and that have established a sort of detachment in the Buenos Aires school, dotted with wooden heritage houses painted colors.
Sacks land disposed on the road that leads to the so-called "visor" and then to the upper part of the mine, where there are still people without evicting, they give an account of the exceptional state of the population.
Clima Curazo Rodríguez, a Colombian from the border department of Nariño and an asylum seeker in Ecuador, had been working in the mine for a few years, thanks to which he could send money to his daughters.
"The work is very hard, in the mine you work with pick and shovel twelve hours, from six to six," he says about the hard work he did illegally but which reported him in the best of months up to $ 1,500.
Also it got to establish a dining room that gave about 60 lunches to the peons, but today all "the work is lost", laments this Colombian, and sentences that "Buenos Aires has been destroyed with the operative one".
Gabriel Bolaños, a resident of the town, works in a warehouse that once sold agricultural equipment and, in recent years, ironmongers such as picks, shovels and plastics.
"The gold boom changed the business of agriculture to the hardware store," he says before indicating that the fact that the population quintupled was a cultural shock, in addition to "much insecurity, prostitution, alcoholism and drug addiction."
(tagsToTranslate) security (t) Ecuador (t) city (t) plastic (t) combat