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News > Brazil

Brazil: Environment Minister Is Linked to Timber Smuggling

  • Environmental Minister Ricardo Salles, Brazil.

    Environmental Minister Ricardo Salles, Brazil. | Photo: Twitter/ @MVM_News

Published 19 May 2021

"Nowadays, anyone who wants to know anything about the environmental issue in Brazil needs to open the crime pages, unfortunately," the Climate Observatory pointed out.

Brazil's Federal Police on Wednesday launched the operation "Akuanduba" to investigate whether the Environment Minister Ricardo Salles and other authorities facilitated the illegal export of timber to the United States and Europe.


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The operation was allowed by Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes, who also withdrew bank secrecy from Salles' accounts. Previously, human rights and environmental defenders denounced that President Jair Bolsonaro's minister had dismantled the institutions that oversee crimes in Brazilian ecosystems.

The Supreme Court ordered the immediate suspension of ten high-ranking officials, including Eduardo Bim, the president of the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA).

It also ordered the suspension of a decree that allowed the export of forest products with no prior authorization from the regulatory institution.

On Wednesday, agents taking part in the Akuanduba operation executed 35 search warrants on officials related to timber smuggling in the states of Amazonas, Sao Paulo, Para, and Brasília.

Earlier this year, the then chief of the Amazonas state police filed a complaint with the Supreme Court to open an investigation against Salles for obstructing the inspection of the largest timber seizure in the history of this South American country.

Climate Observatory Secretary Marcio Astrini said the current investigation could cause the resignation of Salles, an official who has publicly expressed his support for the economic exploitation of nature reserves and Indigenous lands as well as his interest in "further relaxation" of environmental regulations.

"We will see what crimes will be uncovered. Salles set up a real environmental crime bureau inside the Environmental Ministry and he will have to answer for it someday," Astrini said.

"Nowadays, anyone who wants to know anything about the environmental issue in Brazil needs to open the crime pages, unfortunately."

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