Gang involved in illegal logging arrested
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Brazilian police arrested 18 people accused of allowing illegal logging in the Amazon rain forest and were searching for 19 others, including environmental protection agents, the environment minister said.Marina Silva told Agencia Brasil, the official government news agency, that Friday’s operation by federal police and environmental officials was aimed at ending violations of government rules limiting deforestation of the vast rain forest in the eastern Amazon state of Para.The suspects include loggers, members of the environmental protection agency, Ibama, and government workers of the Para state Finance Department and the Department of Science, Technology and the Environment, Agencia Brasil reported.The accused will be charged with crimes including corruption, forging documents, money laundering and environmental destruction, Agencia Brasil said. The Ibama workers were suspended.The amount of lumber illegally logged has not yet been calculated, said Antonio Carlos Hummel, Ibama’s director of forests. The gang operated in the state capital of Belem and six other cities, he said.Para is a notoriously corrupt state. On Feb. 12, 2005, 73-year-old nun Dorothy Stang of Dayton, Ohio, was gunned down in Para, where she spent years trying to protect poor Amazon residents from ruthless loggers and developers.Three men, including two gunmen – have been convicted in her killing. But neither rancher believed to have ordered the shooting has gone to trial – and one was released from jail by a Supreme Court order.