Double murder in the Amazon: five new suspects arrested

Brazilian police said on Saturday they had arrested five new suspects in the investigation into the murder of a British journalist and an indigenous Brazilian expert in the Amazon, with the nine people arrested on suspicion of being involved in a network of illegal fishing. Federal police said the ongoing investigation into the murder of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in June had uncovered “strong evidence” that one of the four suspects already in custody, an alleged drug trafficker, was ” leader and financial backer of a criminal armed group operating in illegal fishing in the area” where the double murder took place.

This Colombian national, Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, led a group “responsible for the sale of large quantities of fish for export to neighboring countries”.

Among the five new detainees are three relatives of the first suspect arrested, a local fisherman, Amarildo “Pelado” Costa de Oliveira. They are believed to have helped him hide the bodies in the bush, according to the police.

Dom Phillips, 57, and Bruno Pereira, 41, were shot on June 5 on the edge of the Javari Valley, a vast, isolated stretch of jungle on Brazil’s borders with Peru and Colombia, which has seen an upsurge illegal fishing, logging and mining, and drug trafficking.

Bruno Pereira was fighting against illegal fishing in the indigenous reserve of this Javari valley which has the largest concentration of tribes that have never come into contact with the rest of the world.

Dom Phillips, a freelance journalist for The Guardian, The New York Times and other major newspapers, was traveling with him to research a book being written called “How to Save the Amazon”.

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