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    POLICE TO LAUCH OPERATION AGAINST THEFT IN GOLD-MINING AREAS OF RUSSIA'S FAR EAST

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    VLADIVOSTOK, May 3 (RIA Novosti's Anatoly Ilyukhov) - As a new gold mining season is getting underway in the Magadan Region, on Russia's Pacific Coast, local law-enforcement agencies are preparing to launch an operation aimed at preventing nugget theft and trafficking, the Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti.

    A similar operation carried out in 2003 resulted in the opening of investigations into 361 related crimes, including 5 cases of organized crime. Over 140 kilograms of gold, 25 kilograms of silver, 900 grams of platinum, and 120 karats of diamonds worth about 62.7 million rubles (more than 2 million dollars, on current rates) were confiscated in the course of last year's raids. Nineteen companies mining for and distributing precious metals and gems were taken out of mafia's control, the ministry reports.

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