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Gold panners arrested and charged Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:00

Friend for Conservation and Development (FCD)are reporting that 4 persons have been arrested and charged after they were caught gold panning in the Chiquibul Forest reserve. According to the FCD on Thursday April 6th at 10:30a.m., FCD Park Rangers conducting a patrol detained four Guatemalan nationals from Monte Los Olivos.

The four men gave their names as 39 year old Roberto Chub Tec, 17 year old Waldemar Gabriel Maas Ac, 33 year old Jose Arturo Pop Caal and Elam Jose Sam Hor, 38 years of age. The four were found 8.6 kilometers inside Belizean territory. They told the rangers that they arrived at the location two days earlier to pan for gold due to the scarcity of any jobs in the community. These persons, along with another that escaped, were found with six vials, however, only 2 of these appeared to contain gold. In their camp, a black plastic bag was found with what appeared to contain marijuana; while a small amount of marijuana was found on Roberto.

The four persons were extracted from the Ceibo Chico region through Natural Arch-Millonario road, onward to San Ignacio. The detainees were handed over to the San Ignacio Police Station at 8:55 p.m. on Friday. Charges are expected to be laid on them by the Forest and Immigration Departments for illegal entry and operating illegally inside a park without any permit.

These gold panners were located 1.5 km near the Ceibo Chico Conservation Post. Another two groups of panners are reported to be in the area. The village of Monte Los Olivos has approximately 951 inhabitants comprised of 207 families, where 53% are females. They are of ketchi descent. The Organization of American States (OAS) teamed with the Department of Agriculture of Guatemala (MAGA) to promote a program of alternative sustainable livelihoods in the community approximately 4 years ago with the intent of preventing locals to encroach into Belizean territory, but apparently this has not stopped the incursions. The four men said they were unaware of the program. The men reported that gold is purchased locally in the village at 180.00 quetzales (Bz$52.00) per gram.