Dirty Gold

The Rise and Fall of an International Smuggling Ring


By Jay Weaver

By Nicholas Nehamas

By Jim Wyss

By Kyra Gurney

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$35.00 CAD

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The explosive story of the illegal gold trade from South America, and the three Miami businessmen who got rich on it—until it all came crashing down.
In March of 2017, a team of federal agents arrested Juan Pablo Granda, Samer Barrage, and Renato Rodriguez, or as they came to be known, "the three amigos." The trio—first identified publicly by the authors of this book—had built a $3.6 billion dollar business in metals trading, mostly illegal Peruvian gold mined in the rain forest.
Their arrest and subsequent prosecution laid bare more than a scheme between a few corrupt traders. Dirty Gold lifts the veil on a massive and very illegal international business that is more lucrative than trafficking cocaine, and often just as dangerous.
As this award-winning team of current and former Miami Herald reporters shows, illegal gold mines have become a haven for Latin American drug money. The gold is sold to metals traders, and ultimately to scores of unwitting Americans in their jewelry and phones. By following the trail of these three traders, Dirty Gold leads us into a sprawling criminal underworld that has never before been in full view.
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  • “[A] shocking true crime epic…show[s] how a criminal enterprise can thrive with a product where melting can erase all traces of origin easier than documents can be forged. This is a must-read for fans of Matthew Hart’s Diamonds and Roberto Saviano’s ZeroZeroZero.”
    Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • “An authoritative consideration of “dirty” gold’s grip on the environment and role in rampant geopolitical corruption.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “[An] engrossing account with a cast of picaresque characters ... [that] tells the full story of how unethically mined ('artisanal') gold makes it from shanty camps like La Pampa in southern Peru — a Stygian hellhole of brothels, child labor and violence — through the global supply chain to become jewelry or part of the motherboard in your smartphone.”
    The New York Times Book Review
  • “A fascinating deep dive into the most primal elements of human greed. Dirty Gold breaks new ground in more ways than one: as an expose on South America’s illicit gold trade, as an international cops and robbers caper, and as a rip roaring tale of avarice that reads like an upscale version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Amazing. Do yourself a favor: get this book and read it.”
    T.J. English, New York Times–bestselling author of The Corporation and Havana Nocturne
  • Dirty Gold is a jaw-dropping true story of illegal gold mining that exposes its devastating ecological impact on developing nations in Latin America and a complex web of corruption and money laundering worth billions in the US. Gold is both recession-proof and easily melted down, leaving no trace of its lineage, and Dirty Gold offers a rare and exciting window into a criminal underworld that is the wild west of gold.”
    Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review
  • “An engaging narrative…a fascinating story peppered with colorful characters.”
    Americas Quarterly
  • “The best account I’ve ever read on Latin America’s massive illegal gold underworld. Fascinating, fast-paced, it documents the wild west of the gold industry, filled with memorable characters. It reminds us of the terrible toll this clandestine business takes on the environment, tearing up rain forests to satisfy the world’s endless thirst for the precious metal. Dirty Gold reads like a thriller.”
    Toby Muse, author of Kilo: Inside the Cocaine Cartels
  • “Leaping from the glitz and glamor of South Beach to the muddy jungles of South America’s most impoverished corners, Dirty Gold takes us on a fascinating, meticulously researched excursion deep into the underbelly of the global gold trade, where almost nothing appears to be on the level and everyone is out for themselves. Studded with unforgettable characters and told with the brisk tension of a thriller, the authors reveal the true, very human cost of all that glitters.”
    Ken Bensinger, author of Red Card
  • “Criss-crossing the world from glitzy Miami to the remote jungle lands of Peru, Dirty Gold exposes the dark underbelly of the illegal precious metals business. A must-read for anyone trying to understand gold’s role as a pivotal spoke in the global money laundering wheel.”
    Anita Raghavan, author of The Billionaire's Apprentice and the Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund
  • “A fascinating story about one of the world’s biggest, and least talked about, illegal businesses. It reads like a thriller!”
    Andres Oppenheimer, author of Saving the Americas and The Robots are Coming!
  • “An astonishing read -- full of corruption, greed, strong drink and stronger language -- that reveals the rotten heart of the global economy.”
    Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland
  • “By tracking the complex web of money launderers, drug traffickers, and big money corporations who have exploited America’s demand for gold, these journalists exposed how this brutal trade is poisoning workers, polluting rainforests, and creating a human trafficking pipeline. This is investigative journalism at its finest.”
    Julie K. Brown, author of Perversion of Justice
  • “For years, doomsday profiteers have pushed gold as a smart hedge against the coming apocalypse, but where is all that metal coming from? This deeply reported book connects Conquistadors to drug cartels to Miami real estate to the Peruvian Amazon—revealing a greed-fueled global gold trade so rotten, it makes Fred C. Dobbs look wholesome."
    Rachel Slade, author of Into the Raging Sea
  • “An eye-opening, compulsively readable investigation…This is journalism and crime writing at its very best and most essential.”

On Sale
Mar 2, 2021
Page Count
384 pages

Jay Weaver

About the Author

Jay Weaver has covered courts, government and politics for more than 25 years for the Herald. A graduate of UC Berkeley, he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News in 2001. He and Nicholas Nehamas were also 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalists for a series on international gold smuggling.

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Nicholas Nehamas

About the Author

Nicholas Nehamas is an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald. He was part of a team that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting on the Panama Papers.

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