Sand Stolen from Baja California, Some Sent to US

This week, Mexico’s Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente (Federal Environmental Protection Office, Profepa) officially suspended the activities of 70 companies that, in 2002, have illegally mined 450,000 tons of Baja California sand to export to the US. Stripped from areas surrounding Tecate and Ensenada, the sand is used to restore US beaches that have suffered erosion from tides, bad weather and other natural phenomena. Other sand is illegally mined and used in Mexican construction projects, according to an article in the Tijuana newspaper, Frontera (no relationship to FNS).

Despite Profepa’s increased enforcement of mining regulations, the theft of BC sand still continues according to observations made by Frontera newspaper’s staff. As in the past, sand-filled trucks avoid environmental officials by staying off of main highways and using back,

dirt roads instead. According to Profepa, there are at least 36 areas where sand is being illegally extracted.

At one point between Tecate and Tijuana, residents of El Gandúl and la Presa de El Carrizo say that every day, but generally during the early morning hours, hundreds of trucks take away sand from dry stream beds.

While the illegal removal of sand threatens the local environment it may later affect community safety. A Tecate environmental official stated

that 5,000 residents of the Andalucía neighborhoods could be in danger from winter rains. This is because the course of stream beds and other paths for rain runoff have been altered by sand mining.