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Is There Tainted Gold Inside Your Phone?

From the New York Times 30 August 2019

Producer/Director Brent McDonald

If you’re reading this on your phone, you may be holding illegally mined gold from Colombia, where the precious metal has replaced cocaine as the main source of income for organized crime. The growing demand for gold as a conductive metal used in phones and other electronic products has helped spawn a deadly illegal trade that’s harder to track than other black-market commodities like blood diamonds or drugs.

“The Weekly” travels to Colombia, where violent paramilitary groups have infiltrated every level of the supply chain, extorting prospectors, gold traders and some of the country’s top mining officials. Our correspondent Nicholas Casey traces gold tainted by criminal enterprises to see who profits, and who looks the other way. He discovers a route from illegal Colombian mines to the source that Apple and other major companies use to buy metals to make phones and other products many of us carry in our pockets every day.


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Nicholas Casey is the Andes bureau chief for The New York Times, covering most of the countries in South America, including Venezuela and Colombia. Before joining The Times in 2015, Nick was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he reported on drug cartels in Mexico and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the last Gaza war. In 2016, he won the George Polk Award with photographer Meridith Kohut for their coverage of Venezuela. Follow him on Twitter at @caseysjournal.

Marty Hurwitz