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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Guyana seizes large cache of diamonds from company suspected of gem trafficking

The Associated Press
Published: October 22, 2007

GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Guyanese mining inspectors on Monday confiscated a cache of diamonds weighing roughly 4,000 carats from a local company suspected of trafficking in black-market gems.

Mining Commissioner Bill Woolford said dozens of uncut diamonds were seized after representatives from Explorers Trade and Commerce Ltd. failed to establish that the stones were mined locally.

"We are seizing them and have warned the company of confiscation and prosecution," Woolford said.

Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mining authorities say they will investigate whether the gems were smuggled into Guyana from Africa in violation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the diamond industry's response to so-called "blood diamonds" that have fueled deadly wars in Congo, Liberia, Angola and Sierra Leone.
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In recent days, mining inspectors traveled to the South American country's remote interior to inspect the area where the company claims they unearthed the gems, but Woolford said they could not find evidence to substantiate the reported find.

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