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Brazilian police have strong evidence that suspected drug traffickers ordered the killing of a British journalist and an indigenous activist in the Amazon last June, the police chief said Monday.

Amazonas state federal police chief Eduardo Fontes said at a press conference that police used the nickname “Colombia” and that suspect Rubén da Silva Villar, who is in custody, ordered the killing of two men. said he believed that

Fontes spoke out about the murder of a British journalist Dom Phillips57, and 41-year-old Indigenous activist Bruno Pereira were “90 percent” rounded up and “virtually shut down.”

“The investigation is in the final stages and there is strong evidence that ‘Columbia’ is the mastermind behind these crimes,” Fontes said.

Brazilian Amazon Crime
A sign reads “Justice for Dom and Bruno” in Portuguese, with images of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira on the left. It is displayed on the aqueduct of Arcos da Lapa during a protest by environmental groups in Rio de Janeiro. June 26, 2022, Janeiro, Brazil.

Bruna Prado / AP

Da Silva Villar has been in police custody since December, but police said he had three sets of identification, two from Peru and one from Brazil, making it difficult to identify him. Met.

Authorities ultimately determined that he was born in Puerto Narino, Colombia, a town in the Amazon region near the borders of Colombia, Brazil and Peru.

Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, a fisherman nicknamed Perado, confessed to shooting Phillips and Pereira and has been arrested since the murders in early June.

Phillips and Pereira were shot June 5 in Valle de Jabari, a remote area where illegal fishing, mining and logging are rampant. they both disappeared “After being threatened,” according to an association that worked with indigenous experts.

Fontes said Villar provided weapons and boats to three men accused of the actual murders, and later paid a lawyer for one of them.

Phillips, a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Guardian and The New York Times, was researching books on Amazon with Pereira.

brazil missing
British journalist Dom Phillips (right) and the Yanomami indigenous people walk in the village of Maroca Papiu, Roraima, Brazil, in November 2019.

Joao Laet/AP

Villar was detained in July and released on bail in October. However, the court again ordered his imprisonment because he did not meet the conditions for conditional freedom.

In a statement, UNIVAJA, the local indigenous association that hired Pereira, believes there are other key plotters behind the uncaptured killings.

Journalists working for local media in the Amazon have been killed in recent years, but no such incidents have occurred among journalists in state-owned or foreign media. Press access is restricted to some areas dominated by criminal activity such as drug trafficking.

In September 2019, an employee of the Department of Indigenous Affairs was shot dead in Tabatinga, the region’s largest city. Crime was never solved.

2017 UK Citizen Emma Kelty was killed while trying to kayak the length of the Amazon. The 43-year-old, who lives in London, posted comments on her social media accounts after she shared her horror of being robbed and murdered in a remote jungle in northern Brazil used by drug traffickers and pirates. disappeared.

That same year, Brazilian prosecutors investigated a possible report by a gold prospector. member killed of the so-called uncontacted tribes of the Amazon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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