Mongabay Latam confirmed that one of the new trafficking methods is the modification of fuel tanks in vehicles to allow room for more fuel, which is permitted by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.After Operation Mercury 2019, the communities of San Gabán (in the Puno region) and Amarakaeri (in the Madre de Dios region) were identified as areas that could see an influx of displaced illegal miners. Upon traveling through Lechemayo, a town in the Puno region of Peru, many visitors come to the conclusion that the town is a hub for fuel sales. The strong smell of fuel and the signs hanging on storefronts are just a few clues. The town’s combis, which are vans that normally carry passengers, instead hold barrels of fuel. The barrels are camouflaged because most of them will be transported from this unrestricted area to a region where fuel sales are currently banned: Madre de Dios. This is the region that has been hit hardest by illegal mining in the Amazon. The route is from Lechemayo to La Pampa, a setting that illustrates the impacts of illegal activity in Madre de Dios, and the vans filled with fuel must navigate through three different checkpoints managed by the police, agents from the tax department (known by its Spanish acronym SUNAT), and personnel from the energy regulator (OSINERGMIN). These obstacles are typically easy for traffickers to bypass. This short stretch of road is home to various illegal fuel pumps. A truck is supplying fuel to the area. Image by Vanessa Romo for Mongabay Latam. Although fuel trafficking has decreased since Operation Mercury 2019 and the execution of the Comprehensive Plan against Illegal Mining in La Pampa and Madre de Dios, the Puno region’s town of Lechemayo is the heart that pumps fuel to different arteries where illegal mining continues to devastate and contaminate the land. Furthermore, since the government intervention, new points of distribution have been opened. The heart of illegality Like in many other communities in the Puno region, Lechemayo is driven by its fuel business. The problem is that in this town in the San Gabán district, this business often has an illegal destination. This small town, which can be traversed in 10 minutes, is not just a hub that makes fuel trafficking possible. It is also surrounded by a problem that appears much larger: illegal coca crops. On the horizon, along the buffer zone of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, lie acres upon acres of the illegal coca.