3e REI: Operation Harpie north of Saül

A few weeks ago in French Guiana (South America), legionnaires of the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (3e REI) participated in a joint operation aimed at illegal gold miners who destroy the local Amazonian rainforest.

This action was part of Operation Harpie, an operation launched in Guiana in 2008 against clandestine gold miners coming from Brazil and Suriname. Legionnaires from the 3e REI’s SAED platoon took part in (a commando-like unit of the reorganized French Army infantry), constituting a Forest Autonome Detachment (DAF). They were transported by helicopter from the Air Base 367 to the jungle, and dropped off north of Saül, a very remote commune in the center of French Guiana.

In the following raid, they seized an illegal mining site. On the spot, about sixty people worked with fourteen electric motors and electrically powered pumps connected by approximately 1,000 meters of pipes. Around them were placed a dozen of folding tables, all on a surface of a soccer field.

Afterwards, the Guiana Gendarmerie arrived and destroyed the site.

Meanwhile, the DAF legionnaires initiated the second phase of the operation consisting in carrying out a reconnaissance of the area and searching probable living areas (small camps) around the main site. Although the gold diggers tried to hide these camps, the legionaries’ in-depth knowledge of the terrain resulted in discovering them. This second phase of the operation led to the seizure of a crusher, three INMARSAT-type satellite phones, four GSM phones, 250 grams of gold, a few crystals of narcotic drugs, a smaller amount of mercury and ammunition.

During the whole operation on that day, the gendarmes, assisted by the DAF, proceeded to destroy 14 huts, 16 motors and electrically powered pumps, 2 power generators, 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) of pipes, 220 liters (58 gallons) of fuel, 30 liters (8 gallons) of oil, 540 kg (1,200 pounds) of tools, 1370 m2 (15,000 sq feet) of tarpaulin and 128 kg (280 pounds) of food.

Foreign Legion - 2020 - 3e REI - Operation Harpie - Saül

Foreign Legion - 2020 - 3e REI - Operation Harpie - Saül

Foreign Legion - 2020 - 3e REI - Operation Harpie - Saül


Source/Photo credits: Defense.gouv.fr


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