PARAMARIBO - The dream of gold is driving tens of thousands of Brazilians into the rainforest on the EU border between Suriname and French Guiana. They leave behind contaminated rivers and shattered illusions. Almost no one wins.

Dona Mirtes is a woman among thousands of men. In the middle of the jungle, between violence and drugs. She runs a small store, selling food and alcohol to the illegal gold prospectors. She has already been chased away twice, her store burned down by the police - but each time she returns.

Like her, there are many who have set up home among pits, huts, poisoned mud and improvised brothels. The border region between Suriname and French Guiana is a hotspot for illegal gold panning: here on the EU's external border, the French gendarmerie is in charge. But they can hardly control the region. The hope of a slice of fortune is too strong.

Photo credit: Ian Cheibub

Team members

Fabian Federl

Fabian Federl is a Franco-German foreign reporter.

Fabian Federl

Ian Cheibub

Ian Cheibub is a visual storyteller based in Brazil.

Ian Cheibub photographer storyteller Brazil

Bram Ebus

Bram Ebus is a Dutch criminologist and investigative journalist.

Bram Ebus
€16.760, allocated on 09/02/2023



  • Eine illegale Goldgrube für die Schweiz, Das Magazin, Issue Nr 4/2024, 26/01/2024


  • Brazil
  • French Guiana
  • Suriname

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