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Federal police with the human remains of those murdered in June of last year. © Edmar Barros/AP/dpa

The case made headlines around the world: a British journalist and an indigenous expert were found dead in the Amazon region. The police now want to know who is behind the murders.

Manaus – A good seven months after the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, Brazilian federal police have “very likely” identified a client.

The alleged mastermind is suspected of leading a criminal organization involved in illegal fishing in the Vale do Javari region, Amazonas state police said. Charges will be filed against him.

It is said that he ordered the killings in the Amazon due to Pereira’s control and surveillance of illegal fishing. Prosecutors had already charged several suspects in July.

Phillips and Pereira disappeared on June 5 while traveling to the Javari Valley in western Brazil. Almost two weeks later, the federal police announced that his remains had been identified. According to the Attorney General’s Office, Pereira was killed with three shots. Phillips was only killed because he was there. So the previous crime must be covered up. As a reason, the prosecutor said that Pereira asked Phillips to photograph the defendants’ boat. Pereira had already had a conflict with one of them over illegal fishing in indigenous areas.

Brazil’s border area with Peru and Colombia is particularly dangerous due to illegal gold prospecting, deforestation, fishing and hunting, as well as drug smuggling. Pereira had documented illegal activities in the Javari Valley for the authorities. He had informed the police that he had been threatened on several occasions. Phillips was doing research for a book on Amazon conservation. dpa

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