HomeNewsBriefBrazil Creates New Specialist Unit to Combat Illegal Logging
BRIEF

Brazil Creates New Specialist Unit to Combat Illegal Logging

BRAZIL / 12 MAR 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The Brazilian government has launched a new anti-logging security force unit in an attempt to tackle a lucrative criminal trade that has turned Brazil into one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists.

The Brazilian Ministry of Justice, working with the Ministry of the Environment and the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), has announced the creation of a new Environmental Operations Unit of the National Public Security Force, which is made up mainly of Military Police.

The new 200-strong unit will be posted at key strategic points along the smuggling trail for illegal timber in the Amazon rainforest to carry out surveillance and control of illegal logging activities. It will supplement the National Force's current efforts to combat the trade, which since 2008 have seen them seize more than 1 million cubic meters of wood, 300 chainsaws and 200 tractors, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The new force will be backed by a $10 million investment from Brazil's Amazon Fund -- set up to tackle rainforest deforestation -- which will be used to purchase equipment needed to operate in isolated jungle territories and to fund operations targeting illegal loggers.

InSight Crime Analysis

Illegal logging accounts for up to 80 percent of all logging activity in Brazil, according to the government's own estimates, and it is the primary driver of the country's sky high deforestation levels.

The profits on offer have created a powerful criminal class operating in isolated corners of the Amazon, whose easy use of violence to silence informants and activists has made Brazil the most dangerous country in the world for environmentalists. According to a report by Global Witness, a UK-based human rights and environmental NGO, between 2002 and 2013, at least 448 environmentalists and land rights activists were murdered in Brazil, the majority related to logging. Just one percent of cases resulted in a conviction.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Eco Trafficking

In recent years, the Brazilian authorities have begun to act against these networks, and the creation of a specialist anti-logging unit follows on from other actions such as the deployment of troops to logging hotspots, the use of drones to monitor deforestation and the drafting of regulations to try and prevent the export of illegal timber (pdf).

Together, these actions place Brazil at the fore when it comes to tackling eco-trafficking in the region, an issue which is rarely prioritized by governments. However, the scale of the task the Brazilians face is huge, the size of the rainforest and the jungle terrain make for a logistical nightmare, while the networks behind the trade are firmly entrenched and are often protected by corrupt contacts as well armed thugs.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCA / 29 SEP 2021

The presence of corrupt actors who have a vested interest in allowing environmental crime to happen coupled with an overall…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 4 MAR 2021

Mato Grosso do Sul is among Brazil’s most strategic states for transnational crime.

COCA / 1 SEP 2021

Emerging from almost six decades of civil conflict, the world’s number one cocaine producer has paid scant attention to environmental…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…