On Wednesday, Italian police detained 14 suspected members of a transnational gold smuggling group in Italy, Romania, and Turkey. The group is known for their involvement in some criminal association and has been accused of money laundering and trafficking of stolen goods.
According to the Italian Tax Police, the association has 29 members from different origins. Mostly the members are from Turkish, Italian, Chinese and Romanian origins. During the investigation, Italian police also discovered assets linked to the members and their companies. These assets are worth 7.4 million Euros, about US$8.5 million.
The ongoing investigation is running for two years. The investigation was dubbed as Philosopher’s Stone. 70 kilograms of pure gold and 1.5 million Euros in cash were discovered by the Bolognese police. The gold is approximately worth 2.5 million Euros.
According to the authorities, the group was lead by a Turkish citizen. The leader was apprehended during his visit in Tuscany. The gang leader was scheduled to collect cash from Chinese entrepreneurs. These Chinese entrepreneurs are involved in tax evasion mostly in the central Italian provinces. The gang leader buys gold from an unknown origin using the money from collected cash.
The gang leader and the other gang members travel to Turkey, Spain and Greece to sell the gold. They hide the gold in their checked bags. Once the gold is sold, the organization transfers the money made from the sale to the Turkish and Romanian companies owned by the suspects.
Devastating effects of illegal Gold Mining
The low-risk yet high-profit mining of illegal gold ignited an overwhelming increase of illegal gold mining. Illegal mining is also the reason for the uncontrollable deforestation and the pollution of rivers. Drinking water has become unsafe due to the presence of mercury. Mercury is used in extracting gold.
As a result, political and criminal gangs emerged greatly. The huge illegal pour of cash and loss of revenue in the local government also comes with the devastating increase of cases of child labour, forced labour,and sex and human trafficking.
The economic and social impact of illegal gold mining is often significant in countries where small scale mining and quarrying is widespread. Illegal gold mining activities often take place in the remote areas where problems related to illegal gold mining and child labour occur.
Poverty is often linked to the use of child labour in the remote area. Parents who allow their children be involved in such activities are unemployed and usually works in mine too. In some cases, the entire family is involved in the working process. However, children are not paid fairly; the wage they receive is not the same as an adult who performs the same job that is why illegal organizations prefer to hire a child for labour.