By Brecken Branstrator
New York—A new documentary detailing the rise in illegal gold mining in Colombia and its connection to violence and extortion in the country is now in front of consumers.

On Sept. 1, The Weekly, a new TV series from The New York Times, released an episode called “Apple’s Gold,” delving into the rapid increase in illegal gold mining in the South American nation since the metal’s price started increasing in the 2000s.

Most of Colombia’s gold comes from illegal mining, the documentary states, as more of the metal is exported than the country’s legal mines declare they produce, a fact supported by a 2018 study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which found that 66 percent of Colombia’s gold comes from illegal mines.

Illegal mining of gold is so profitable in Colombia, in fact, that the metal has replaced cocaine as the main source of income for organized crime, according to the documentary.

“The criminal economies are more lucrative than they have ever been in Colombia’s history,” Jeremy McDermott, co-founder of Insight Crime, is quoted as saying.

In the documentary, reporter Nicholas Casey, The Times’ Andes bureau chief, travels to the El Bagre region, where illegal gold mining is prevalent, to talk about—and show—the environmental impact it’s had on the country, particularly the destruction of its landscape and the use of toxic chemicals in the process.

Casey also delves into the ties between illegal gold mining and violence and extortion executed by guerilla gangs and paramilitary groups.

The fact that many of the gold mines are in remote areas where there is little government presence has allowed these groups to become entrenched in different levels of the supply chain, and the documentary traces their involvement from mining through the chain.

In the documentary, Casey also details the issues that come with an audit system for companies and individuals in the supply chain that doesn’t dig deep enough to reveal these connections.

Though most of Apple’s Gold focuses on the use of the Colombian gold in electronic devices—tracing specifically gold that ends up in Apple products—it does mention jewelry, bringing the industry into the conversation about the problems with illegal gold mining in Colombia.

The Weekly airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on FX and is available on Hulu the next day.

Hulu subscribers can watch “Apple’s Gold” via the streaming service now; the trailer can be seen on

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