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The explosive story of the illegal gold trade from South America, and the three Miami businessmen who got rich on it. In March of 2017, a team of FBI agents arrested Juan Granda, Samer Barrage, and Renato Rodriguez, or as they called themselves, "the three amigos." The trio--first identified publicly by the authors of this book-- had built a $3.6 billion dollar business in The explosive story of the illegal gold trade from South America, and the three Miami businessmen who got rich on it. In March of 2017, a team of FBI agents arrested Juan Granda, Samer Barrage, and Renato Rodriguez, or as they called themselves, "the three amigos." The trio--first identified publicly by the authors of this book-- had built a $3.6 billion dollar business in metals trading, mostly illegal Peruvian gold. Their arrests and subsequent prosecution laid bare more than a corrupt finance firm, though. Instead, Dirty Gold lifts the veil on an illegal international business that is five times as lucrative as trafficking cocaine, and arguably more dangerous. As the award-winning team of Miami Herald reporters show, illegal gold mines have become a haven for Latin American drug money. The gold is then sold to metals traders, and ultimately to Americans who want it in their jewelry, smartphones, and investment portfolios. By following the trail of these three traders, Dirty Gold leads us into a criminal underworld that has never before been in full view.


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The explosive story of the illegal gold trade from South America, and the three Miami businessmen who got rich on it. In March of 2017, a team of FBI agents arrested Juan Granda, Samer Barrage, and Renato Rodriguez, or as they called themselves, "the three amigos." The trio--first identified publicly by the authors of this book-- had built a $3.6 billion dollar business in The explosive story of the illegal gold trade from South America, and the three Miami businessmen who got rich on it. In March of 2017, a team of FBI agents arrested Juan Granda, Samer Barrage, and Renato Rodriguez, or as they called themselves, "the three amigos." The trio--first identified publicly by the authors of this book-- had built a $3.6 billion dollar business in metals trading, mostly illegal Peruvian gold. Their arrests and subsequent prosecution laid bare more than a corrupt finance firm, though. Instead, Dirty Gold lifts the veil on an illegal international business that is five times as lucrative as trafficking cocaine, and arguably more dangerous. As the award-winning team of Miami Herald reporters show, illegal gold mines have become a haven for Latin American drug money. The gold is then sold to metals traders, and ultimately to Americans who want it in their jewelry, smartphones, and investment portfolios. By following the trail of these three traders, Dirty Gold leads us into a criminal underworld that has never before been in full view.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    RG

    After watching an episode on netflix about the dirty gold trade I wanted to explore more. We hear alot and read alot about the drug, gun and unfortunately human trafficking side of things but rarely do we hear about the illegal gold trade. This covers a story mainly set about in South America involving an american trio who work for a big corporation. Dealings with people in south America who are quite dodgy but still push through to make a dollar but its consequences are vast. Would make a great After watching an episode on netflix about the dirty gold trade I wanted to explore more. We hear alot and read alot about the drug, gun and unfortunately human trafficking side of things but rarely do we hear about the illegal gold trade. This covers a story mainly set about in South America involving an american trio who work for a big corporation. Dealings with people in south America who are quite dodgy but still push through to make a dollar but its consequences are vast. Would make a great film

  2. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    http://www.icij.org/inside-icij/2021/... ‘Dirty Gold’ chases ‘three amigos’ from Miami to Peru and beyond A new book explores a multibillion-dollar money laundering conspiracy by gold traders and the human side of the illegal mining economy. By Sean McGoey. March 16, 2021 In “Dirty Gold: The Rise and Fall of an International Smuggling Ring,” journalists Jay Weaver, Nicholas Nehamas, Jim Wyss and Kyra Gurney explore the federal investigation into three Miami-based gold traders linked to a multibillio http://www.icij.org/inside-icij/2021/... ‘Dirty Gold’ chases ‘three amigos’ from Miami to Peru and beyond A new book explores a multibillion-dollar money laundering conspiracy by gold traders and the human side of the illegal mining economy. By Sean McGoey. March 16, 2021 In “Dirty Gold: The Rise and Fall of an International Smuggling Ring,” journalists Jay Weaver, Nicholas Nehamas, Jim Wyss and Kyra Gurney explore the federal investigation into three Miami-based gold traders linked to a multibillion-dollar money laundering conspiracy. The scheme originates in Peru’s illegal gold market, but sprawls out into neighboring countries as “the three amigos” aim to stay one step ahead of the law. The book, which came out earlier this month, evolved out of a series of stories published in 2018 while all four authors were colleagues at the Miami Herald. ICIJ interviewed Gurney, a former ICIJ reporter who investigated the illicit gold trade as part of the FinCEN Filesinvestigation, and Weaver, a longtime federal courts reporter at the Herald, about covering a multifaceted federal investigation, the regulatory failures that enable money laundering, and the human cost of the illegal gold trade. How did you get involved with this story? I know it dates back to a series of Miami Herald stories (“Dirty Gold, Clean Cash”) that you worked on together, but how did this smuggling ring first enter your lives? Jay Weaver: I’ve covered a lot of big stories on my court beat dealing with financial fraud, corruption, terrorism, drug trafficking — you name it. Miami is a real hub for all of that stuff. But this case, about a $3.6 billion money laundering conspiracy involving three local Miami brokers, stuck out in many ways. Most of the gold, if not all of it, was coming out of Peru and being smuggled into these other countries because of a crackdown in Peru based on criminal gangs, drug traffickers, pollution, environmental degradation, mercury — all kinds of things that motivated the Peruvian government to finally criminalize this illegal mining activity. When I looked into the gold trade, I realized it had been covered a fair amount on the ground in certain countries by investigative journalists in South America, but practically nothing in the United States. I quickly realized that I was going to need some help if we were going to turn this into a big project, so we brought in Nick Nehamas, the investigative reporter with the Herald’s I-team; Jim Wyss, the Latin American correspondent at the Miami Herald; and Kyra Gurney, who is an expert in Latin American affairs. There were so many tentacles to this story. To make it complete, it couldn’t just be about a criminal investigation and about the characters who were accused of leading this gold smuggling effort. We had to look at the rainforest that was being devastated, the workers and miners toiling there at subsistence wages, and the whole criminal network behind the scenes controlling a lot of this subsistence or “artisanal” mining in this southern Peruvian area. It wasn’t just a many-tentacled affair internationally, but even with the team that’s assembled by the federal government to investigate — DEA agents, U.S. attorneys, Homeland Security, and more. How difficult is it for so many different parts of the machine to come together to pull something like this off? Weaver: I’ve been covering federal agencies and the courts forever. This was an example of highly unusual cooperation among various agencies working under one prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office. But it was a messy process. In order to make the case, the prosecutor had to put together this “fellowship of the ring,” as he called it. It was this motley crew of different agents — not only U.S. agents, but law enforcement on the ground too. Chile was extremely helpful. Peru was sort of helpful, but a bit of a struggle. The cast of characters includes some outsized personalities among the smugglers and money launderers as well. Weaver: Jim dealt with a money launderer in Peru, “Peter Ferrari,” who was providing a lot of the gold to NTR Metals and these brokers we called “the three amigos.” He was a flamboyant, made-in-Hollywood figure. Very flashy, liked to go to fancy restaurants, liked to have beautiful women on each arm. But I think an equally interesting character was this guy Harold Vilches, who Kyra covered backwards and forwards. Same source of gold, just a different salesman. Kyra Gurney: Harold was really fascinating to me because he was so young. He was maybe 20, 21 when he started getting involved in gold smuggling. It was just so interesting to me that he had convinced so many older, seasoned businessmen to go along with his business and buy gold from him. A really fascinating character, and somebody who now admits that he let himself get totally carried away by his ambition. Weaver: And he double-crossed a lot of people, which was remarkable. Just brazen. And then he took this trip to Tanzania to try to develop the gold trade in Africa for NTR Metals — with their blessing, according to him. It was a fascinating detour. Gurney: It was interesting to talk to Harold about that trip because he had always been the one who double-crossed these other companies and gold traders, and then he’s the one who gets scammed in Tanzania and loses this investment. At one point, he says that he was detained by these armed men; he’s not sure if they were police or not. When he realized finally that he had been duped, he didn’t want to try to stay in Tanzania and get his gold back. He just wanted to get the hell out of the country and safely back to Chile. What hurdles did you encounter while reporting these stories and working on the book? Gurney: I traveled to Chile twice to work on the reporting, but because I didn’t have any contacts in Chile, I was starting from scratch. And initially we weren’t able to interview Harold. He had sold his life rights to this film company, so he wasn’t contractually able to talk to us. So initially, I was focused on interviewing all the different investigators in prosecutors in Chile — this had also been a really big case for them — and trying to piece together Harold’s story based on their experiences investigating him. The prosecutors and police in Chile were understandably very proud of this case, so once I was able to finally sit down with them, they were really excited to talk about it and eager to share everything that had gone into this investigation. Weaver: On our end, Nick and I had to work with a lot of federal sources and get them comfortable working with us. Now, I know a lot of them. They weren’t strangers, and I had built trust with them over a long period of time. But nonetheless, this is the federal government, and you’re trying to get them to talk to you while there’s an ongoing criminal investigation. What was so different about this from a Miami Herald investigative project or something like the FinCEN Files project is that it could not just be built on attribution to a lot of different parties. We had to find so much detail to create scenes, episodes, and characters with a driving narrative that put the reader there.....

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: January 3, 2021 Publication date: March 2, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, AND the worst sciatica attack in your life means you MIGHT sleep 3 hours a night, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of th Date reviewed/posted: January 3, 2021 Publication date: March 2, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, AND the worst sciatica attack in your life means you MIGHT sleep 3 hours a night, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. The explosive story of the illegal gold trade from South America, and the three Miami businessmen who got rich on it In March of 2017, a team of FBI agents arrested Juan Granda, Samer Barrage, and Renato Rodriguez, or as they called themselves, "the three amigos." The trio--first identified publicly by the authors of this book-- had built a $3.6 billion dollar business in metals trading, mostly illegal Peruvian gold. Their arrests and subsequent prosecution laid bare more than a corrupt finance firm, though. Instead, Dirty Gold lifts the veil on an illegal international business that is five times as lucrative as trafficking cocaine, and arguably more dangerous. As the award-winning team of Miami Herald reporters show, illegal gold mines have become a haven for Latin American drug money. The gold is then sold to metals traders, and ultimately to Americans who want it in their jewelry, smartphones, and investment portfolios. By following the trail of these three traders, Dirty Gold leads us into a criminal underworld that has never before been in full view. Every morning I hear on my husband's beloved AM radio about how investing in gold is the only way to protect your money which is going to make drug lords very happy as boomers generally have money and listen to this station. (and they also tend Personal styling and money opinions aside, this was an excellent book: I love reads like this: excellent research and reporting/writing in a way that will appeal to all lovers of non-fiction. I will never look at gold the same way: and I had no idea that it was in cell phones. (is that why an iPhone costs so much? ...snark...) If you are looking for a different kind of book, or are a fan of non-fiction this is the perfect book - it is enjoyable from page one to last and I will recommend it to friends, patrons and book clubs alike. And now I have an out for wearing the yellow gold (which I hate it is so tacky), as I can say it is dirty! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 💰💰💰💰💰

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kea4

    We’ve all heard of blood diamonds well now its golds turn in the spot light. I had to admit that I had no idea all this was going on. The book focus on the ‘three amigos’ as they were called who would buy illegal mined gold in South America. This is the story of their rise and downfall. But as in most cases the little guys get caught not the corporations. It also follows some of the players in South America and how it all went down. Who know that the gold business is more lucrative then drugs but We’ve all heard of blood diamonds well now its golds turn in the spot light. I had to admit that I had no idea all this was going on. The book focus on the ‘three amigos’ as they were called who would buy illegal mined gold in South America. This is the story of their rise and downfall. But as in most cases the little guys get caught not the corporations. It also follows some of the players in South America and how it all went down. Who know that the gold business is more lucrative then drugs but it makes sense that once gold is melted down there is no way to trace where its come from. I had no idea about the Peruvian gold trade or how much environmental damage it had done. Just looking up pictures of the areas is jaw dropping. Not to mention the human rights issues. The impact on the miners as well as the people in the living in the area thanks to the use of mining with mercury. The book talks about how hard it is to stop this practice. Once one area is stopped miners will go somewhere else and start over again. Not to mention selling to foreign countries. It really gives a good overview of a topic one does not know a lot about. https://theworldisabookandiamitsreade...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Kelley

    Do you remember back in the 1980's and 1990's when you begin to here the stories about blood diamonds ? You know those that are mined in warzones and used to finance insurgencies and different criminal elements. This is the story as the title reveals about dirty gold being gathered by illegal mines in regions of South America with a primary focus on the country of Peru and the three individuals to bring as much gold to United States and in the end what leads to their downfall. It also talks abou Do you remember back in the 1980's and 1990's when you begin to here the stories about blood diamonds ? You know those that are mined in warzones and used to finance insurgencies and different criminal elements. This is the story as the title reveals about dirty gold being gathered by illegal mines in regions of South America with a primary focus on the country of Peru and the three individuals to bring as much gold to United States and in the end what leads to their downfall. It also talks about the environmental disaster this these people are or were creating with the methods they used to extract the gold. I found it interesting the methods that various agencies recognized that things were amiss and it is staggering the amount of gold that they were buying up. There was so much money to be made that even South American drug gangs were laundering their drug money buy gold and melted it down to pass off as mined gold. This is a fascinating read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Toby Muse

    The best account I’ve ever read on Latin America’s massive illegal gold underworld. Fascinating, fast-paced, it documents the wild west of the gold industry, filled with memorable characters. It reminds us of the terrible toll this clandestine business takes on the environment, tearing up rain forests to satisfy the world’s endless thirst for the precious metal. Dirty Gold reads like a thriller.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patrice Go

    I am amazed with your storytelling, great job! If you allow, may I share your book to facebook in order to reach more readers? And by the way, NovelStar is currently conducting a writing competition - You have a great potential.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anne Hatchaway

    I did not expect to enjoy this book so much as it isn’t my usual genre.  ... If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to [email protected] or [email protected]

  9. 4 out of 5

    Justine Chen

    Kudos to the writer of this book. You did an amazing job. Why don't you try to join NovelStar's writing competition? You might win a prize, judging from the book I just read. Kudos to the writer of this book. You did an amazing job. Why don't you try to join NovelStar's writing competition? You might win a prize, judging from the book I just read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    I've ordered this book and am looking forward to reading more about "the three amigos." Will update review asap after reading! I've ordered this book and am looking forward to reading more about "the three amigos." Will update review asap after reading!

  11. 4 out of 5

    L

    The book was an interesting read, and the authors did a good job weaving together the different strands of the case and helping the reader keep track of the different actors involved. There are two key areas I think the book was lacking in -- one is discussion of the impacts on human rights, particularly on indigenous peoples' rights. I think it would have been interesting for the book to have included perspectives from indigenous communities impacted by the illegal mining. The second is that al The book was an interesting read, and the authors did a good job weaving together the different strands of the case and helping the reader keep track of the different actors involved. There are two key areas I think the book was lacking in -- one is discussion of the impacts on human rights, particularly on indigenous peoples' rights. I think it would have been interesting for the book to have included perspectives from indigenous communities impacted by the illegal mining. The second is that although the book has a solutions chapter, the chapter did not delve much into some of the deeper systemic issues that need to be resolved, such as the difficulty of holding corporate executives accountable and possible legislative solutions to such problems. As a result, the solutions chapter left me feeling a bit dissatisfied at its narrow focus. *I received this book for free via a Goodreads giveaway.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Keenum

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mac

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

  15. 5 out of 5

    Smitchell

  16. 5 out of 5

    Harry

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ashok Srinivasan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Selbst

  19. 5 out of 5

    Byron

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gloria Coleman

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

  22. 5 out of 5

    Derek Scicchitano

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard Sewell

  26. 4 out of 5

    Grace Gardner

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  28. 5 out of 5

    katia de lasteyrie

  29. 5 out of 5

    ben kingham

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ilse

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