Thibaud Hue 09h15, March 26, 2023, modified at 09:17, 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 combat this scourge for several years, gold trafficking remains very important on French Guiana. About 10 tons of gold are illegally mined from the territory each year.

Gold trafficking in Guyana has claimed a victim in the ranks of the GIGN. This Saturday, a 35-year-old gendarme fell under the bullets of these gold miners 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 French Guiana, ten tons of gold are illegally extracted each year on the island by nearly 6,000 illegal miners, the so-called "garimpeiros".

Also in 2012, two GIGN members killed

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

Operations are always very dangerous, as Christian Prouteau, founder and first commander of the GIGN, explains. "The gold miners are ready for any violence because every time they are arrested, they have the equipment taken. There is indeed quite a bit of gold, and given the misery in Surinam, in the neighbouring countries, they are ready for anything. And that's why 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 explains.

>> Find Europe morning weekend in podcast and replay here

Last year, French authorities conducted more than 1,000 forest patrols against illegal gold panning. As a result, 59 kilos of mercury, the metal used for mining, and five kilos of gold were seized, according to the prefecture. Emmanuel Macron expressed his great emotion and praised the courage of this non-commissioned officer.