Criminal gangs are becoming a threat to the world’s glaciers, which are already receding quickly, the United Nations said Thursday, citing a case in Chile where police are investigating the theft of some 5,000 kilograms of millennia-old ice from the Jorge Montt glacier.
Mining for ice could pose a major additional threat to the 454 square-kilometer glacier, which is situated in Chile’s Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, and is part of the 13,000-square kilometer Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest frozen land mass in the world after Antarctica and Greenland, according to the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The Jorge Montt glacier is melting at a rate of one kilometer per year.
The prosecutor handling the case in Chile reported this week that those implicated in the ice theft had been identified as a result of an investigation that followed the arrest of the driver of a refrigerated truck last Friday. The truck was intercepted in the southern Chilean town of Cochrane.