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Guatemalans caught gold panning in Chiquibul

Two Guatemalan men have are in police custody after they were caught in the Ceibo Chico area in southern Chiquibul for gold panning. According to a release by Friends for Conservation and Development, FCD, the men, and a third person who managed to escape, were caught on Saturday March 17 while the FCD Chiquibul National Park Ranger and the Belize Defense Force personnel conducted a joint patrol in the area. The men were working on the river approximately 6.5 kilometers inside the Chiquibul National Park. When the team searched each of them they were found with a plastic vial containing what appeared to be gold. The team also found shovels, plastic basins, iron bars and a black bag with marijuana in the immediate area. The two persons who were detained have been identified as 24 year-old Isais Tux Makin and a16 year-old minor of Monte Los Olivos, Peten, Guatemala. They were escorted out of the forest and handed to San Ignacio Police on Sunday pending charges. The FCD reports that gold panning has been an ongoing illicit activity in the Ceibo Chico region. The Ceibo Chico Conservation Post was instituted in 2012 to address this trans-boundary illegal activity but it still remains one of three primary threats to the integrity of the Chiquibul Forest and headwaters. The FCD adds that the full impacts of the sedimentation and water quality of the Chiquibul headwaters are yet unknown.