Five more arrested in Brazil for the murders of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira | House of Phillips and Bruno Pereira

Brazilian police arrested five more people in connection with the killings of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous activist Bruno Pereira on Saturday.

Although they gave little details, police said three people arrested in operations near Brazil’s borders with Peru and Colombia were sought for helping to bury the bodies of Phillips and Pereira.

All three are related to Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, one of three men charged last month with a double murder in a case that shocked the world and exposed growing insecurity in a densely forested region.

Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, went missing in the Javari Valley in western Brazil on June 5, at the end of a trip organized by Phillips to submit a book on sustainability. Phillips has written for The Observer and Guardian as well as other publications.

Pereira, a former official from the Brazilian Native State Agency, knew the area well and assisted the British with his research.

One morning, the men were ambushed as they were traveling in a boat down the Itaquaí River. Police believe their attackers shot them and then carried their bodies to the jungle, where they buried them in a hastily dug grave.

However, two suspects pleaded guilty to the crime and led the police to the place where they buried their bodies.

Police believe the killers were worried that Pereira had photos and evidence that they were fishing in restricted areas for endangered species, including turtles and pirarucu, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

A single pirarucu can cost up to $ 1,000 in markets in Brazil and Colombia, and police believe criminal mafias are working with poor local fishermen to hunt animals, often in indigenous reservations where access to strangers is prohibited.

They arrested one man last month for using false identity cards, and on Saturday said they identified him as Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, also known as “Colombia”.

Police “found strong indications that Colombia is a leader and is funding an armed criminal association dedicated to the practice of illegal fishing in the Javari Valley [and] responsible for the sale and export of large quantities of fish, the federal police said in a statement.

Local news reports said da Silva Villar had provided a local fisherman with boats, motors and bait.

Indigenous activists in the region took this news “with great joy” and said it was “the beginning of justice.”

A lawyer for the Univaja Indigenous organization said the arrests, especially in Colombia, confirmed their original thesis – that the killings were not committed by people working alone, but with the cooperation or at the behest of the local mafia.

“A criminal organization has been operating in the Javari Valley for a long time, and today’s investigations, operations and arrests only confirm this,” said Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for Univaja. “So we feel represented. This is the beginning of justice for our brutally murdered friends. “

“This strengthens the need for the state to participate in an area that has been abandoned by the state,” he added.

The investigation continues.

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