Four firefighters operating in Alter do Chao, an administrative district of the city of Santarém, located in the northern Amazonian state of Para, are suspected of setting the fires that were so widely publicized across global media in September of this year.
Police suspect that the arson was aimed at generating donations to the volunteer fire force.
The arrested officers have been shown to have connections with “Saude & Alegria” (Health and Joy) an organization praised for its work in the Amazon. Further investigations at the organisation’s headquarters unearthed signed contracts with the “WWF” (World Wildlife Fund) to sell 40 images of the fires for R$70,000. The same images that are said to have motivated the actor Leonardo DiCaprio to donated U$500,000 to help fight the fires in the region.
Police said the firemen had “privileged information and images of the fires” that were suspicious.
“They filmed, published and then were called on by the government to help control the same fires that they caused,” Jose Humberto Melo Jr., an officer involved in the raid, said in a written statement.
“They always claimed to be surprised upon arriving at the scene, but there was no other logical possibility.”
The fires raged for nearly a week before finally being extinguished.
Located on the banks of the river Tapajos, Alter do Chao is one of the top tourist destinations in the region. The local DA confirmed that the fires originated in a preservation area that has been in the sights of both ranchers and developers for years but refused to comment further before their investigations are complete.
Was this just four guys seeing a chance to make a quick buck, or perhaps part of something much bigger?
I know, I know.
“Shut up and pay tour taxes.”
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