The anti-galamsey taskforce, Operation Vanguard has arrested six more illegal miners.
They are; Christopher Tetteh, Abdul Latif and David Buguri. The rest are; Enoch Annor, Louis Asare and James Darmeh.
Tetteh, Latif and Bugri were arrested by the Forward Operating Base of the Taskforce at Akyem Asamamma. The task force retrieved a CAT 330 CL excavator and other mining equipment during the arrest.
The rest were arrested at Akyem Abomosu near Kwarbeng mining on the Birim River. The arrests were made on the 17th and 19th January, 2018 respectively.
They have since been arraigned before the Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’ and charged for conspiring to commit crime and mining without license.
The cases were being handled by David Hodanu, Senior State Attorney and Cyril Boateng Keteku, Assistant State Attorney respectively.
In a separate development, a 47-year-old, Sampson Benchi was jailed three and a half years in hard labour on Friday January 19, 2018 by the same Court presided by Her Honour Mercy Adei-Kotei for engaging in illegal mining.
Also, he was slapped with a GH¢26,400 fine.
Benchi who is said to be a farmer was part of five illegal miners arrested and put before the Koforidua Circuit Court ‘B’ for illegally mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve.
The rest of the accused persons are Ofosu Richard, 27, Aikens Kawodie, 23, James Ampong alias Great Ampong, 24, and Felix Ampomah, 25.
They were slapped with the charge of conspiracy to commit crime and mining without license.
Benchi was convicted on his own plea of guilty but the rest pleaded guilty with explanation hence their case was adjourned.
Narrating the facts of the case to Court, the Prosecutor, Nana Gyankomah Sakyi, a State Attorney said the complainant is a Forestry Taskforce from the Forestry Services Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana while the accused persons are illegal miners residing in Akyem-Apenamang .
According to the prosecutor, on January 17, 2018 , based on tip off the taskforce went to the crime scene and met a number of illegal miners inside the Atewa Forest Reserve which is a global biodiversity center seriously engaging in illegal mining, depleting the vegetation the forest.
Upon seeing the taskforce, they fled but the taskforce managed to arrest the five accused persons but they claimed during their caution statement that they went to take their mining equipments hidden in the Forest since the Christmas festivities to the owner having gotten information that the Forestry Taskforce will be in the area.
The taskforce retrieved pickaxes, head-pans, water pumping machines, shovels among many other mining tools.
In another development, a Senior State Attorney, David Hodanu, also put before court four other illegal miners arrested out of a group of 30 illegal miners spotted mining in the Obuoho and Fante portion of the Atewa Forest Reserve by the Forestry Taskforce after trekking about five hours deep forest
The four accused persons, Issah Ali alias Mallam Issah, Mark Kofi Danku, a. k. a known as Okumbuor, Kwasi Darko, and Kwaku Damptey have been slapped with the charge of conspiracy to commit crimes and mining without license.
Since a ban was placed on illegal mining, the miners have made the Atewa Forest Reserve a target to thwart arrest. The situation is leading to the depletion of the vegetation despite efforts by the inadequate forest guards.