Black-market coltan likely making its way to high-tech manufacturers’ supply; it’s used in everything from smart phones to smart bombs.
Illicit mining thrives in hot spot of Colombia’s Amazon, tucked in a corner infamous for drug smugglers and armed paramilitaries and well out of the view of police patrols looking for traffickers.
It’s used by almost everybody in smart phones and consumer electronics, and there is no simple way to keep conflict coltan out of the stream of legitimate minerals used by manufacturers.
For several months, ICIJ reporters in six countries combed government and court records and interviewed mining experts and brokers. The reporters also followed miners as they prospected for coltan in South America’s Amazon, in the border between Venezuela and Colombia, where they face cross-border smugglers and must deal with violent drug traffickers and paramilitaries — conditions similar to those in Central Africa.
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