Brazil Arrests 32 for Environmental Crimes, 25 Are State Employees

Brazil has unleashed today, August 30, a police operation called Euterpe to catch people involved in environmental crimes. Out of the thirty-two arrests made by the Brazilian Federal Police, in Rio, this morning,  25 work for the Ibama, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural).

The other seven who were caught are businessmen active in the areas of real state, civil construction and fishing, in activities connected to areas protected by environmental laws.

From the 25 employees arrested, 13 are from the city of Rio, and represent 20% of Ibama’s Rio staff. Personnel from other offices will have to be moved to fill up the vacancies.

Operation Euterpe started in July of last year after a newcomer at Ibama blew the whistle and told his superiors that hearts of palm were being cut irregularly in the environmental reserve of Tinguá, in Nova Iguaçu.

According to police chief Alexandre Hails, who headed the operation, his team found out a network of corruption involving federal servants. These bad employees are accused of getting bribes in exchange for licenses and favorable technical opinions. They also took kickbacks in order not to fine those catching sardines during the mating season, when this activity is prohibited by law.

Those arrested are being charged with environmental crimes as well as gang formation, passive corruption, active corruption, and violation of public office secret.

Environment Minister, Marina da Silva, who went to Rio to oversee the operation, said that the action named after a kind of palm is the biggest one in Brazil outside the Amazon.

And she added,  "Ibama is cutting its own flesh, as the Federal Police has already done to themselves, but this is an action for the good of the public institutions and the environment."

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