SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Deforestation and burning in the Amazon region are linked to mafia-like groups that pay for armed militia against those who try to report crimes, says a report by non-governmental organization Humans Rights Watch (HRW).

“Illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is driven largely by criminal networks that have the logistical capacity to coordinate large-scale extraction, processing, and sale of timber, while deploying armed men to protect their interests,” says the report issued last week by HRW.

Calling them the ‘ipê mafias’, HRW says these groups’ ultimate goal is to "clear the forest to . . .

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