Brazil: 'Biggest Amazon Deforester' Arrested

Suspect blamed for 20% of forest loss
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 25, 2015 12:18 AM CST
Brazil: 'Biggest Amazon Deforester' Arrested
Ezequiel Antonio Castanha is escorted in handcuffs by a federal police officer in Novo Progresso, Brazil.    (AP Photo/Jornal Folha do Progresso, Juliano Simionato)

Brazil has detained a land-grabber thought to be the Amazon's single biggest deforester, the country's environmental protection agency says. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources says Ezequiel Antonio Castanha, who was detained Saturday in the state of Para, operated a network that illegally seized federal lands, clear-cut them, and sold them to cattle grazers. The agency blames the network for 20% of Amazon deforestation in recent years. The agency's head of environmental protection says the arrest of Castanha, who could be sentenced to up to 46 years in prison, could "contribute significantly to controlling deforestation in the region." (More Brazil stories.)

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