Amazon tribe ‘massacred’ by drugs traffickers
Indigenous Indians may have been hunted down by cocaine trafficking gang from Peru
THERE ARE fears that an uncontacted Amazon tribe may have been massacred by drugs traffickers from Peru after a Brazilian police operation to close down the smugglers who were operating in the rainforest.
Armed gangs were reported to have entered the jungle region near the Peruvian border last month and overrun a guardpost run by Brazil's indigenous protection service Funai.
Federal police arrived in the region this month and reportedly arrested Joaquim Antônio Custódio Fadista, a Portuguese man accused of being a cocaine trafficker.
Now the head of Funai is on his way to the western Amazonian state of Acre and says he has real concerns about the fate of the uncontacted Indian tribe, which made headlines earlier this year when it was filmed from the air.
Worryingly, a broken arrow was discovered in a backpack recovered from a trafficker during the police operation. The head of Funai, Carlos Travassos, told the Brazilian news website IG: "We believe that these guys could be massacring the Indians... The arrow is like the identity card of the tribe. We thought the Peruvians had chased the Indians. We now have definitive proof and we are more concerned than ever. This could be one of the biggest blows for decades to the work of protecting isolated tribes. It is a catastrophe of our society. A genocide."
The Guardian quotes Antenor Vaz, a Funai co-ordinator, as saying: "Either these guys have killed the isolated Indians or they have had contact with them. We know that these Indians defend themselves by attacking."
National Geographic reported that the drama began last month after Ashaninka Indians, who live three hours upstream, reported seeing armed men in the jungle. It was feared then that they were traffickers who would hunt down tribespeople in order to clear the forests for coca-growing operations.
The uncontacted tribespeople have twice been spotted by journalists on flights over the region, but have been intentionally left alone. ·
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