Since the beginning of April 2009, more than 600 members of the French armed forces (army, air force and gendarmerie) have been sent to French Guyana to strengthen Operation Harpie against illegal gold mining. Officially launched by the President of the Republic in February 2008, Harpie is a large-scale operation, conducted jointly by the gendarmerie forces (including the GIGN) and the armed forces in French Guiana. It is placed under the authority of the prefect and the public prosecutor for the court, and seeks to stifle the illegal gold mining areas and destabilize a sustainable economy. On the ground, the target of the operation remains primarily those that provide logistics to the jungle based illegal sites. The illegal gold mining sites are identified with the support of the National Forestry Office (ONF) and the Parc de Guyane Amazon (PAG). River checkpoints are built by the army sappers and joint army and gendarmerie detachments are deployed. This network is supplemented by mobile patrols and joint operations in the depth of the jungle. An Twin Otter aircraft is also available to facilitate the deployment of detachments on hard to access areas, even during the rainy season. In order to enforce the decrees limiting traffic on the river, the sappers of the 31st Engineer Regiment (31 RG) and the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (3 REI) established deterrent dams IOT prevent illegal crossing points of rivers Maroni and Oyapok. Last year 423 operations were carried out by the police with the support of military forces in Guyana resulting in the destruction or seizure of 63 kg gold and 323 kg of mercury, 653 pumps, 323 boats and 271 weapons. Operations have continued to be on the increase since. http://www.defense.gouv.fr/ema/forces_interarmees/forces_de_souverainete/guyane/harpie_la_lutte_contre_l_orpaillage_clandestin_renforcee The illegal gold miners are wrecking havoc on the primary jungle, releasing hundreds of kilos of mercury into the wild, turning thousands of hectares into wasteland in the process.