Death of a GIGN gendarme: gold trafficking, a scourge that continues to plague Guyana

Thibaud Hue
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9:17 a.m., March 26, 2023

This Saturday, a 35-year-old non-commissioned officer died in Guyana, killed during an operation against illegal gold panning. Although the French authorities have been trying to fight this scourge for several years, gold trafficking remains very important on French Guiana territory. About 10 tons of gold are illegally mined from the territory every year.

Gold trafficking in French Guiana claimed a victim in the ranks of the GIGN. This Saturday, a 35-year-old policeman fell under the bullets of these gold diggers during an operation against illegal gold panning. A scourge that plagues this territory and against which the French authorities have been fighting for several years. Gold panning is a massive traffic in Guyana, ten tons of gold are illegally extracted each year on the island by nearly 6,000 illegal miners, known as “garimpeiros”.

Also in 2012, two members of the GIGN were killed

And this is not the first time that this type of operation ends badly. Already in 2012, two soldiers had been killed and two gendarmes seriously injured by gold prospectors. Already, on the Dorlin site, in the heart of the virgin forest, where this member of the GIGN lost his life this Saturday.

Operations that are always very dangerous, as explained by Christian Prouteau, founder and first commander of the GIGN. “The miners are ready for any violence because each time they are arrested, they have their equipment taken away. There is indeed a lot of gold, and given the misery that there is in Suriname , in the border countries, they are ready for anything. And that is why the GIGN type units are prepared for this type of mission, for the possibility of having in front of them determined people, ready to use their weapons,” he said.

Last year, the French authorities carried out more than 1,000 patrols in the forest against illegal gold panning. Result: 59 kilos of mercury, the metal used for the extraction, and five kilos of gold were seized, according to the prefecture. Emmanuel Macron expressed his great emotion and saluted the courage of this non-commissioned officer.

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