Alleged ‘mastermind’ named in deaths of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira

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Two more suspects have been named in the alleged murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, including the alleged mastermind of the crime, Brazilian police say.

Phillips and Pereira were shot dead a year ago while they were returning from a reporting trip in the Amazon.

Ruben Villar, also known as “Colombia,” has been named as a suspect and the “mastermind” of the crime, according to the statement by Brazil’s Federal Police. He is suspected of being the leader of an illegal fishing criminal organization in the region.

Fisherman Janio Freitas de Souza has also been named as a suspect and has links to the illegal fishing criminal organization, the statement added.

Phillips and Pereira disappeared on June 5, 2022, while conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the region, which authorities have described as “complicated” and “dangerous.”

The pair had been traveling in the Javari Valley, in the far western side of the Brazilian Amazon, before they were killed and had received death threats just days prior to their disappearance, according to the Coordination of the Indigenous Organization, known as UNIVAJA.

Brazilian authorities said that although there are several people arrested and the investigation is well advanced, their police work is still not finished.

The deaths of Phillips and Pereira has drawn global attention to the perils often faced by journalists and environmental activists in Brazil.

Between 2009 and 2019, more than 300 people were killed in Brazil amid land and resource conflicts in the Amazon, according to Human Rights Watch, citing figures from the Pastoral Land Commission, a non-profit affiliated with the Catholic Church.

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