Brazilian police find human remains in Amazon where men went missing, justice minister says

Brazilian police find human remains in Amazon where men went missing, justice minister says




Brazil’s justice minister said Wednesday that police reported finding human remains in the Amazon area where an native expert and British journalist disappeared more than a week ago.

Justice Minister Anderson Torres said the remains had not been identified.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “I have just been informed by the federal police that ‘human remains have been found at the place where there digging was being made.’ Those will be submitted to forensics.”

No further details were closest obtainable.

The federal police said in a statement earlier, after a speculate was taken to the search area, that it would keep up a news conference Wednesday evening to make “an exceptional clarification about the investigations.”

A demonstrator holds a banner with an image of British journalist Dom Phillips, left, and native expert Bruno Araujo Pereira during a protest in Manaus on Wednesday. (Suamy Beydoun/Reuters)

Colleagues of the missing native expert, Bruno Pereira, called a vigil outside the headquarters of the Brazilian government’s native affairs agency in Brasilia.

Pereira was on leave from the agency when he disappeared June 5 while traveling with Dom Phillips, a British freelance journalist.

They were last seen on their boat in a river near the entrance of the Javari Valley native Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia. That area has seen violent conflicts between fishermen, poachers and government agents.

2 suspects

The justice minister’s announcement came a few hours after police took one of two suspects in the disappearances out on the river — toward search parties looking for Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41.

Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41, nicknamed Pelado, and his brother Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, also 41, are both under arrest. 

De Oliveira told AP on Friday that he had visited Pelado in jail and was told that local police had tortured him in attempts to get a confession. De Oliveira, who was arrested on Tuesday, said his brother was innocent.

native people who were with Pereira and Phillips have said that Pelado brandished a rifle at them on the day before the two men disappeared.He has denied any wrongdoing.

Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, second from left, is brought out of the courthouse by military and civil police officers in Atalia do Norte, Amazonas state, Brazil, on Wednesday. (Edmar Barros/The Associated Press)

Wide search

Official search teams had concentrated their efforts around a identify in the Itaquai river where a tarp from the boat used by the missing men was found Saturday.

Authorities began scouring the area and discovered a backpack, laptop and other personal belongings submerged underwater on Sunday. Police said the items belonged to the missing men.

Police before reported finding traces of blood in Pelado’s boat. Officers also found organic matter of apparent human origin in the river that was sent for examination.

Authorities have said a main line of the investigation has pointed to an international network that pays poor fishermen to fish illegally in the Javari Valley save, which is Brazil’s second-largest native territory.

One of the most valuable targets is the world’s largest freshwater fish with scales, the arapaima. It weighs up to 200 kilograms and can reach three metres. The fish is sold in nearby cities, including Leticia, Colombia; Tabatinga, Brazil; and Iquitos, Peru.

A firefighter holds a cell phone with a picture showing the moment when a backpack was found during a search Pereira and Phillips in Atalaia do Norte on Sunday. (Edmar Barros/The Associated Press)

Pereira, who before led the local bureau of the Brazilian government’s native agency, known as FUNAI, has taken part in several operations against illegal fishing. In such operations, as a rule the fishing gear is seized or destroyed, while the fishermen are fined and briefly detained. Only the native can legally fish in their territories.

AP had access to information police shared with native leadership. While some police and others in the vicinity link the pair’s disappearances to the “fish mafia,” federal police have not ruled rule out other lines of investigation, such as narco trafficking.

In 2019, FUNAI official Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was gunned down in Tabatinga in front of his wife and daughter-in-law. Three years later, the crime remains unsolved. His FUNAI colleagues told AP they believe the slaying was connected to his work against fishermen and poachers.

Police officers and rescuers search for Phillips and Pereira in Atalaia do Norte on Sunday. (Bruno Kelly/Reuters)

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