LAW & CRIME

Dirty Gold: The Rise and Fall of an International Smuggling Ring

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Mar. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9781541762909. $28. CRIME
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Journalists Weaver, Nicholas Nehamas, Jim Wyss, and Kyra Gurney have expanded their Miami Herald series into a comprehensive exposé of the South American gold industry. Three gold brokers in Miami, Juan Pablo Granda, Pedro David Pérez Miranda, and Renato Rodriguez (the “three amigos”), went on a Peruvian gold–buying frenzy in the Amazon for their parent company, NTR Metals, by colluding with locals to falsify documentation and skirt compliance laws. This “dirty gold” results in ecological devastation, since mercury is used to pull gold from the soil, and miners are often forced to work in perilous conditions. When Peruvian authorities cracked down, the operation moved to Chile, Bolivia, and Colombia, and Granda, Miranda, and Rodriguez continued to buy Peruvian gold that had been smuggled out. This story celebrates some big wins: some of the major players were convicted, are serving time, and are on the hook for large fines; the investigation involved cooperation between several international agencies; and prosecutors were able to sentence illicit gold brokers by charging them with money laundering. The book is extensively researched and vividly told; readers might be mentally casting a film adaptation while reading.
VERDICT An important book that will enlighten readers about the disturbing impact of gold mining in the Amazon

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