Brazilian police bust Amazon logging gang

Feature story - 6 June, 2005
The Brazilian Federal Police have dismantled a gang responsible for illegal logging in the State of Mato Grosso for 14 years. 89 arrest warrants were issued - including for corrupt Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA) agents and loggers, who were responsible for the illegal logging of enough timber to fill 76,000 trucks.

Greenpeace uncovers an illegal logging operation in the Amazon. Brazilian Federal Police have launched a crack down on illegal logging operations in one part of the Amazon.

During the investigations, 283 Forest Management Plans were suspendedand another 36 were cancelled indefinitely. Also, 431 "ghost loggingcompanies" were exposed all over the Mato Grosso State. The operationalso exposed false ATPFs (Authorization of Forest Products Transport),which are a way of "laundering" authorisations in order to use themagain.  The operation involved 450 Federal Police agents and 31IBAMA agents and is the largest ever carried out by the Federal Policein the Brazilian Amazon.

Our Amazon Campaign Coordinator, Paulo Adario said, "It is important to stress thatthe arrests of loggers and IBAMA agents today in Mato Grosso are notisolated cases. The Federal Police and IBAMA should extend this kind ofinvestigation to other Amazon States, such as Para and Rondonia, wheredeforestation and illegal logging are rampant. Also, the federalagencies such as IBAMA, Federal Police and INCRA (the NationalInstitute of Colonisation and Land Reform) need to be strengthened andprepared to fight illegal logging, land grabbing,deforestation and crimes against human rights."

More good news for the Amazon

On another positive note, in a major move toward Amazon forestprotection, the governor and the major of São Paulo have announcedtheir aim to join Greenpeace's Amazon Friendly City Campaign. OnWorld Environment Day the State Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin,and the Mayor of São Paulo, José Serra, made an important contributionto protect the Amazon. Both governments formally joined our "AmazonFriendly City" campaign - effectively closing the door to illegaltimber. They also issued a decree demanding suppliers to presentevidence of the legal origin of the timber on all public purchases.

Rebeca Lerer, our Amazon campaigner, said, "After a run of bad newssuch as the murder of Sister Dorothy Stang and the high levels ofAmazon deforestation, we finally have something to celebrate. São Paulois the world's largest consumer of Amazon timber. Today's decision willclose the door to illegal timber and will oblige suppliers to complywith the new environmental standards. Those who work illegally havejust lost a great slice of the market."

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