At least 19 people were injured in a twelve-hour shoot-out between rival organised crime gangs in Hanrine's lucrative gold mining concession in northwestern Ecuador. The gunfight near Buenos Aires killed an unknown number of people, with bodies reportedly hastily buried or dumped down mine shafts where the confrontation took place. A truck transporting local residents and some of the wounded from the area also overturned, injuring 15.
The gunfight took place on Imba 2, a mining concession owned by Hanrine, a subsidiary of Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, where an illegal mining enterprise has been operating since December 2017.
Thousands of miners from Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and other countries descended on the site when gold was discovered in late 2017. As many as ten thousand people have since moved into the area to mine for gold.
Rival mafia gangs have been vying for control of the lucrative trade since early 2019. Tens of millions of dollars in gold has left the site to be processed in the south of the country, with onground sources suggesting that police officers have simply watched truck drivers pay approximately $50,000 in bribes to move each load of gold material.
The newcomers have caused serious problems for the residents of Buenos Aires, with reports of violence, drugs and prostitution in the town. In May, local residents blockaded the main road into the mine after locals were threatened by armed men.