Twelve persons, who allegedly engaged in illegal mining, have been arrested by the Eastern Regional Police Command to assist in investigations.
Three Chinese and five Ghanaians, whose names have not been given, were apprehended by the anti-galamsey taskforce Operation Vanguard during an operation at Pankese and Wisiwisi in the Birim North and Kwahu West Municipalities of the Eastern Region respectively last week.
Four illegal miners identified as Emmanuel Mensah, 26, Rashid Alhasan, 50, Zule Ali, 45, and Emmanuel Owusu, 23, were also arrested in the Atiwa Forest Reserve last Saturday.
The spokesperson for the Operation Vanguard team, Captain Nathaniel Asamoah, who made this known to the media, said the team managed to seize earth-moving equipment, weapons and ammunition, among others.
According to him, the team also seized a Nissan pick-up, three excavators, a pump action gun, three puller covers, an excavator monitor, generator, compressor, auxiliary board, starter and different types of batteries.
With the Atiwa Forest, the Begoro District Forestry Manager Kwame Oteng Awuah, told the media that the suspects were caught mining close to Prang and Omenatwi Rivers in the Akyem Akwadum to Potroase stretch of the forest.
He disclosed that the illegal miners mounted tents in the Atiwa Forest Reserve to carry out their operations.
“The illegal miners, mostly natives of the fringe communities, sleep in the tents for at least a week without going home to escape arrest; this makes it difficult for the handful of Forest guards manning the forest to monitor their movements and arrest them, Mr Awauh added.
He said eight out of the over 20 tents found in the area were destroyed by the forest guards.
The illegal miners are severely destroying vegetation, ecosystem and river bodies in the forest through the alluvia mining.