A gang leader is accused of orchestrating the 2022 murders of Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and journalist Dom Phillips.
Brazil’s federal police have accused a Colombian fishmonger of being the mastermind behind the double murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, a crime that brought international attention to the Amazon rainforest. and identified the leader of the gang.
On Monday, Alexandre Fontes, the federal police chief in Brazil’s state of Amazonas, said his investigators had a “strong belief” that Rubén Dario da Silva Villar was behind the June 2022 murder. He said that
Pereira, 41, and Phillips, 57, were last seen on June 5, 2022, while boating through the indigenous Javari Valley in Brazil’s western tip, near the Peru-Colombia border.
The two men were researching a book on Amazon sustainability that Phillips, a journalist who had worked for The Guardian and The New York Times, wanted to write. However, their ship did not return.
The disappearance of the two men was the result of a series of actions taken by reporters, environmentalists and indigenous leaders while working in an area where illegal miners, loggers, poachers and drug traffickers all fought over resources and territorial control. renewed concern about the threat posed to
Ten days later the search for the men ended when a fisherman named Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira confessed to killing them. ) to a hidden burial ground.
Pereira, an expert on indigenous peoples, has clashed with local fishermen, especially as an employee of FUNAI, Brazil’s federal agency for indigenous affairs. He had received threats and was known to carry a gun for safety. After leaving FUNAI, Pereira continued to work with indigenous peoples in Brazil, teaching locals how to monitor illegal activities and collect photographic evidence of crimes.
On the day he and Phillips disappeared, Pereira was reportedly carrying evidence of criminal activity to authorities in the municipality of Atalaia do Norte. He was conducting inspections for illegal fishing in the area.
Both he and Phillips were eventually shot dead.
Prosecutors say Phillips ‘likely was killed simply because he was with Bruno’ [Pereira], to ensure impunity for previous crimes”. Three of his men, including fisherman Oliveira, were charged with murder in July.
Villar, the gang leader identified by police on Monday and known by the nickname ‘Colombia’, has been accused of running an illegal fishing network in the Amazon that has suffered economic losses because of Pereira’s work. Police said he had funded poverty-stricken locals and illegally fished in the indigenous Javari Valley.
Villar, who was already in police custody as of Monday’s announcement, faces additional charges for allegedly using a forged Brazilian birth certificate and a fake Peruvian identity card to commit illegal acts. It is said
At a press conference in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, federal police accused Villar of providing the ammunition used in the murders of Phillips and Pereira. Officials also said Villar called the murderer who confessed before and after the shooting and paid for his lawyer. Villar denies the charges.
UNIVAJA, the indigenous union of the Javari Valley that hired Pereira, believes there are many more organizers behind the murders that have yet to be apprehended.