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Illegal fishing as lucrative as drug trafficking in the Amazon

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2022-07-03-Illegal fishing as lucrative as drug trafficking in the Amazon

Illegal fishing and logging in the Javari Valley, one of the largest indigenous areas in Brazil, has become as lucrative as the drug trade and operates under an interconnected umbrella of organized crime, said Alexandre Saraiva, a senior federal police officer.

Saraiva was Superintendent of Amazonas State until 2021, when he was ousted by the Bolsonaro government after leading an investigation that linked former Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles to illegal logging in the rainforest.

Smuggle drugs, tropical fish and turtles

Saraiva: “We stopped dozens of boats in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, carrying both drugs and the fish species pirarucu. A single boat can carry five tons of pirarucu – also known as Arapaima – which can eventually sell for $50.000.

“Illegal fishing costs next to nothing,” he explained. “The bait is not expensive, they are relatively easy to catch and the staff is cheap.” A fisherman earns about one to two thousand Brazilian reais (about $400) for a whole month's work. “And it poses far fewer legal risks than drug trafficking.”

logging

Logging is another lucrative criminal activity† Saraiva described the case of a local mafia figure, Alcides Guizoni, who was sentenced to six years in prison for cocaine smuggling, and later shifted his activity to illegal logging that, according to a federal police document, earned him 16,8 million reais ($3,2. XNUMX earned) in more than four years.

The potential profits to be made in the Javari Valley have attracted criminal organizations from across the country, including the Family of the North, the Red Command and First Capital Command, three of Brazil's largest organized crime groups — and a local drug lord. which operates on the Peruvian side of the Javari River.

Source: theguardian.com (EN)

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