According to reports published this week, Colombian law enforcement authorities have seized some 30 tons of coltan in the last six months from Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) dissidents, who, according to the Prosecutor's Office, allegedly exploited indigenous people to extract the mineral.
The illegal operations were reported to have been carried out in the Puinawai Forest Reserve, in Guainía.
The Prosecutor's Office now intends to keep the mineral in order to preclude any profit from reaching either organization, to affect the illicit income of the FARC and ELN dissidents, according to a statement released to the press. The seizings took place in the jungle departments of Vichada, Guaviare, and Guainía
The Puinawai National Nature Reserve (RNN) is the second largest in the country and has almost 1,100 hectares. The largest seizures were made in Guainía, with 19.2 tons and 6 in the Guaviare. The assets affected with precautionary measures were delivered to the Special Assets Company (SAE) for their administration.
Coltan is used to make batteries and technological equipment, which criminal gangs illegally exploit and try to take out of Colombia through the border area with Brazil and Venezuela to be shipped to countries such as Germany, Belgium, Kazakhstan, and the United States.
These armed groups are believed to exploit indigenous communities to extract the mineral in the middle and upper part of the Inírida River, in the Puinawai forest reserve area, and in the National Natural Parks of the Amazon.