Supposed seven-foot-tall “face peeling” aliens that have allegedly been terrorising villagers in the remote Peruvian jungle since last month are most likely illegal gold miners using jetpacks, according to authorities.
Last week, tabloid media reported stunning claims from terrified locals who said they were being attacked by “seven-foot-tall”, flying, armoured aliens that looked like the Green Goblin from Spider-Man.
The claims were made by members of the Ikitu indigenous people in the remote rural district of Alto Nanay, north east of Lima.
Locals described the extraterrestrials as having large heads and yellowish eyes, claiming they had been attacked every night since July 11.
Some villagers also described the aliens as being like “los Pelacaras” — the Face Peelers — strange beings from Peruvian folklore that feast on human fat and organs.
A 15-year-old girl was allegedly grabbed from behind and had her neck cut when she resisted.
Community members said they can’t sleep because they are in fear.
They said the “aliens” were immune to their hunting weapons and called on the Peruvian military to step in to protect them.
Villagers also claimed that the alien prowlers wear protective armour.
“These gentlemen are aliens,” community leader Jairo Reátegui Ávila told local media last week.
“They appear to be armoured like the Green Goblin from Spider-Man. I shot one of them twice and he wasn’t injured, he rose and disappeared. We’re very frightened about what’s happening here in our community.”
He added, “Their shoes are round-shaped, which they use to float. They float about one metre from the ground and there is a red light on the heel. Their heads are long, they wear a mask and their eyes are yellowish. They are experts at escaping.”
Villagers started carrying out night patrols to hunt down the intruders.
They requested a military presence from the authorities, but it reportedly takes a 10-hour river trip to reach the community from Iquitos City.
According to reports, the police reached the remote area on board a speeder vessel and toured the village perimeter, including the area where the teenager was allegedly attacked.
It was unclear last week if the authorities found anything to corroborate the villagers’ claims and if the government intended to deploy military personnel to the area for a sustained period of time.
But as the story went viral in the national media, Peruvian law enforcement offered a new suspect — illegal gold mining syndicates attached to powerful drug cartels including Brazil’s O Primeiro Comando da Capital, Colombia’s Clan del Golfo or the FARC rebel group.
Brazil and Colombia’s militaries have partially ejected the groups from their borders.
Peru’s National Prosecutor’s Office said over the weekend that these gold “mafias” are likely using jetpacks to inspire fear with the bizarre “alien” terror campaign, in order to keep the locals in their homes and away from their illegal mining pits.
Prosecutors suspect the miners first began using jetpacks to prospect for gold deeper into the dense jungle.
One witness, a local schoolteacher, told prosecutors the attackers were using propellers and other hi-tech equipment.
“They would be using state-of-the-art technology, such as thrusters that allow people to fly,” Peruvian government prosecutor Carlos Castro Quintanilla told broadcaster RPP. “We have investigated that these gentlemen would be using this suit to reach those places.”
Mr Quintanilla said the “mafias de extranjeros”, or foreign mafias, operate their gold extraction enterprise out of towns in Loreto, the northmost region of Peru, with 80 per cent of these illegal gold mining operations located in the Nanay river basin where the Ikitu live.
According to a 2017 national census, there are around 1350 people who identify as being a member of the Ikitu community.
The Daily Mail reports that the practice of unregulated “artisanal mining” boomed in the region during the 2008 financial crisis when gold prices spiked.
A 2016 assessment by Interpol noted that in some countries, “the illicit trade in gold would be more profitable than drug trafficking and seen as low risk by criminals, likely due to the strong law enforcement response to drug trafficking in the region”.
The non-profit Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) estimates that artisanal gold mining is a $US30 billion to $US40 billion industry.
Peru is the largest gold producer in Latin America, producing about 150 metric tons of artisanal gold each year, the AGC estimates.
Mr Quintanilla told RPP that so far in 2023, authorities had managed to destroy 110 illegal gold dredges and 10 mining camps.
— with Jam Press