Anti-mining activists say such behavior is typical.

"Many times what we've seen in the past, unfortunately, is the results of this kind of investigation get lost," said Reinhard Seifert, a longtime opponent of the Yanachocha gold-mining consortium in neighboring Cajamarca state.

Peru's government recently recorded 169 active social conflicts, most of them mining-related. Protests against Yanacocha's $5 billion Conga project in Cajamarca state have twice led national authorities to impose states of emergency that suspended civil liberties.

In the highlands town of Espinar, farmers have mounted protests saying contaminated runoff from a copper mine owned by Xstrate is killing their llamas, sheep and vicunas â¿¿ an allegation the company denies.

Espinar Mayor Oscar Mollohuanca was jailed for 15 days after a protest in which police fired on demonstrators and at least two people died.

"In this country it's the mining companies who govern," he said. "At their service they have the president, the police and the bullets."


Frank Bajak reported from Lima, Peru. AP writer Carla Salazar also contributed to this report.


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