Brazilian police arrest 5 more in murder of British journalist in Amazon

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BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s federal police on Saturday arrested five more people in an investigation into the killings of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon rainforest in June.

Police said in a statement that seven arrest warrants had been issued for illegal fishing in the remote Valle do Javari region near the border between Colombia and Peru, where Phillips and Pereira went missing on June 5.

The area has been invaded by illegal fishermen, loggers and gold miners. Police say it is a major route for drug smuggling.

Phillips, a freelance reporter who wrote for the Guardian and the Washington Post, was researching for a book on the trip with Pereira, the former chief of isolated and recently contacted tribes at the Funai, the federal Indigenous Affairs Agency. Were.

Two of the seven suspects were already arrested: Rubén Darío da Silva Villar, known as “Colombia”, and fisherman Amarildo Costa de Oliveira, known as “Pelado”, who was murdered in June. was arrested as the primary suspect.

According to the police, Colombia would be the leader and financier of an armed criminal gang involved in illegal fishing, which was smuggled to neighboring countries.

Police said three of the newly arrested people, whose names were not disclosed, are relatives of Amarildo and were involved in hiding the bodies of Phillips and Pereira.

Pereira, a former senior official of the federal Indigenous Affairs Agency Funai, had previously clashed with Amarildo over illegal fishing within the indigenous territory.

Federal prosecutors said Phillips was killed because he could not identify the killers.

(Reporting by Marcella Ayers; Editing by David Gregorio)