Police destroy illegal mining operations in one of Peru's biggest raids
Police destroyed illegal gold mining operations in the deforested area known as La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region last week in one of the biggest of more than 60 operations the government has launched since 2014, when it made illegal the wildcat mining that has been ravaging pristine jungle and contaminating it with tons of mercury.
More than 1,000 police and soldiers dynamited and dismantled mining machinery valued at $3 million, including dredges and motors used to separate gold flecks from sand in crude sluices, the government said.
Most of the miners are highlands peasants lured by the promise of modest riches, especially now that gold prices have climbed back above $1,200 an ounce.
The government raid that destroyed scores of illegal gold mining camps in the region also targeted about three dozen brothels where officials said they rescued two minors presumably working as prostitutes.
The targeted area, in the southeastern jungles bordering Brazil and Bolivia, is adjacent the Tambopata reserve, one of the world's most biologically diverse ecospheres.
More from AOL.com:
Woman arrested for smuggling cocaine in bizarre location
Elton John shuts down Sunset Strip for free concert with surprise appearance from Lady Gaga
Sheriff's department in Virginia to add 'In God we trust' decals to patrol cars