Crime & Justice

Organized crime in Amazonia extends grip beyond Brazil’s borders

Sao Paulo, Jul 20 (EFE).- The activities of the criminal groups plundering the Brazilian Amazon extend across most of South America’s largest nation and even to neighboring countries, according to a report released Wednesday by the Igarape Institute.

Researchers at the Rio de Janeiro think-tank analyzed 302 operations carried out by Brazil’s Federal Police between 2016 and 2021.

The study, Connecting the Dots: Territories and Trajectories of Environmental Crime in the Brazilian Amazon and Beyond, describes a “criminal ecosystem” with components in 24 of Brazil’s 27 states and in French Guiana, Venezuela, Suriname and Colombia.

Igarape identifies four main categories of environmental crime: 1) appropriation of public land; 2) illegal logging; 3) illegal mining; and 4) agriculture facilitated by deforestation.

The report goes on to describe as “laundering” the range of activities undertaken to “enable resources and products from protected areas in the Amazon to be integrated into legal markets in Brazil and abroad,” such as fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering.

Nearly half, 45 percent, of the police operations reviewed targeted environmental depredation in officially protected areas of Brazilian Amazonia, including indigenous reserves.

The power of criminal gangs in the Brazilian Amazon was highlighted last month by the murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous guide Bruno Pereira.

Two men engaged in illegal fishing have confessed to the killings, but the investigation continues.

“Accelerated deforestation throughout the Amazon Basin, especially in the vast stretch of the forest within Brazil’s borders, has pushed the planet’s largest tropical biome close to its tipping point,” Igarape says. EFE cms/dr

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