Brazil Arrests Those Linked to Deforesting 598 Hectares of Amazon Rainforest
Brazilian authorities issued 35 warrants against criminal groups linked to the deforesting of almost 600 hectares of the Amazon rainforest for the purposes of illegal cattle raising and money laundering.
Federal Police agents carried out two simultaneous operations meant to repress the criminal deforestation and illegal occupation of 598 hectares of the Amazon rainforest. In addition to deforestation, the crimes included in the warrants include invasion of public land and money laundering.
Spanning more than 5,500,000 square kilometers, the Amazon represents over half of the Earth’s remaining rainforests. Home to an estimated 390 billion trees, 16,000 animal species, and 30 million people across hundreds of ethnic groups, it is by far the world’s most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest.
Large scale deforestation, however, is a common occurrence within the rainforest. Criminals often clear out isolated pockets for drug trafficking, illegal cattle raising, and illicit mining, to name a few.
The total affected area is large enough to fill almost 600 soccer fields, authorities said. Aerial photographs reveal the scope of the damage done to the Amazon with the now deforested clearings stretching towards the horizon.
One of the operations carried out by police, Operation Xingu, sought out illegal land grabbers, cattle ranchers, and a georeferencing technician, police said. Their alleged crimes were reportedly identified by field investigators via satellite images.
In addition to the noticeable environmental damage, there are also noteworthy economic harms brought about by illegal deforestation within the Amazon.
The aforementioned group is linked to the illegal destruction of roughly 800 hectares of native Amazonian rainforest in 2022 alone. This damage is estimated to have cost the Brazilian government roughly R$18 million reais (US$3.7 million).
Among the arrested suspects is an individual convicted of murdering an American missionary in 2005.
In total, four arrest warrants, 25 search and seizure warrants, and six warrants banning future access to the rainforest were issued by federal police officers as part of the two operations.
If found guilty of all charges, the suspects face sentences that could exceed 20 years in prison.