The government plans to deploy 386 soldiers and police to fight illegal mining in northwestern Colombia, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said.

The defense minister presented the security plan Saturday in Segovia, a city in the northwestern province of Antioquia that has been affected by illegal mining, whose proceeds are used to finance the operations of drug gangs, such as Los Urabeños and Los Rastrojos, and the leftist FARC guerrilla group.

The security strategy targets drug trafficking, which generates funds for illegal armed groups in Segovia, Remedios, Vegachi and Yali.

The situation in these towns and cities has forced the government to make a “full response” because of the “confrontation between Los Rastrojos, Los Urabeños and what is left of Los Paisas,” Pinzon said.

The government is deploying seven officers, 47 command-level officers and 332 enlisted men in the area, the defense minister said.

“The characteristic of this operation is that (National) Police units arrive that have already been activated, and the military forces, the army, in particular, support the police work, support the actions of the police, and more importantly still, and the best kept secret, is the joint work with the Attorney General’s Office,” Pinzon said.

Two special prosecutors will be in charge of targeting the gangs, bringing those arrested on illegal mining and drug charges to justice, the defense minister said.

The initial phase of the security operation resulted in the closing of six illegal mines, the arrests of 14 suspects and the seizure of three excavating machines, Pinzon said.

The government stepped up actions against illegal mines after determining that illegal armed groups used this activity to finance their operations. EFE