Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gold Mine.

This is coolbert:

Interesting article in the Chicago Tribune today. Illustrates a problem that police forces the world over face.

The problem being that criminal gangs are becoming more militarized and engaging in criminal behavior of a nature hitherto not believed to be possible. Behavior requiring the police to become THEMSELVES MILITARIZED.

"In gold mines of S. Africa, a duel with pirates."

Yes, gold mine pirates.

Pirates that invade and occupy abandoned gold mines. Continue mining operations illegally and with relative impunity.

Gold mines that have become financially unfeasible to continue to operate. Gold mines that still do possess significant amounts of gold. But too expensive for whatever reasons to have further mining operations proceed. Mines that were "sealed" and "abandoned".

Mines now occupied by "pirates" that live in the mines for up to A YEAR AT A TIME, NOT EMERGING ONCE. Mining the remaining reserves of gold and selling to syndicates.

What is described in the Tribune article sounds like a cross between the trench raids of World War One, an episode from the TV series SWAT [Special Weapons And Tactics], and the tunnel warfare of Vietnam!!

From the Tribune article:

"South African police are waging a battle against a new breed of pirate: wildcat gold miners who live underground for months at a time . . . smuggling out ore worth millions and defending their turf with homemade grenades and booby traps."

"Special Task Force officers, have dodged shotgun-wielding miners, defused bombs and managed to wrestle out the invaders"

"We launch operations quietly so they don't know we are there. Then, when they turn around, we are on them" [the police are on the pirates in this case!!]

"the wildcat miners build grenades from dynamite, and booby trap shafts were they work with home-made bombs."

"To prepare for the raids, the new police mine squad spent a week practicing tactics underground . . . and adjusting to the Dante-esque [hellish] conditions of sweltering heat and reduced oxygen. Unable to use firearms underground for fear of sparking mine gases and setting off explosions, the police have had to come up with alternative weapons"

[those South African gold mines are the deepest man has been able to burrow into the earth. It would take an ordinary mining crew two hours to descend to the pit face [where the actual mining is taking place]. First you descend by elevator to one level and then ride a T-bar like contraption down a slanting passageway to where the horizontal shafts are dug. At this level is presumably where the illegal miners are found. Just to get to the miscreants is difficult in itself, much less having to fight and overpower them.]


What sort of weapons are needed for this type of "operation"?

[in the Tribune article, [not discussed] "for fear of tipping off [the] gold pirates."]

* Clubs of some sort? Expanding steel whip police baton? [you cannot use any sort of weapon that produces a spark or flame.]

* Disabling gases, mace, pepper spray?

* Pit caving equipment? [to allow you to descend into the depths relatively silently.]

* Special uniforms to include goggles, gas masks, gloves full of lead shot for fighting at close quarters, infra-red-vision equipment, body armor, knee pads, helmets?

* Sonic devices to produce incapacitating sound? [highly speculative!!]

* Dogs? [muzzled until the last possible moment to allow for silent approach.]

* Sticky-foam? An adhesive to hold the culprit in place. [hard to clean up and so sticky it gets on the arresting officer too.]

Hardly ordinary police work. Police work requiring a military style operation.



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