Illegal mining involves looting and 'Frankenstein' helicopter, says MPF

The alleged role of air taxi companies in illegal mining operations on indigenous land involves substantial cash transactions with gold extraction and sale ventures; cash withdrawals for expressive amounts; use of helicopter that is a “real Frankenstein”; and creation of a message group between pilots for notices about inspection.

These notes are made by the Federal Police and by the MPF (Federal Public Ministry) in the investigations that resulted in the blocking of assets, nine helicopters among them, of businessmen suspected of being part of a criminal organization for the illegal exploitation of gold, environmental crimes and money laundering.

The blockade was determined by the Federal Court in Roraima.

The findings of the investigation were reported by the MPF to the TRF-1 (Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region), in the course of a habeas corpus filed by the defense of entrepreneurs investigated.

The details of the charges are described in a document of the Regional Attorney of the Republic of the 1st Region, concluded in 19 of December.

The next day, the federal judge of the TRF -1 Maria do Carmo Cardoso accepted the defense’s request, without citing the accusations described by the Attorney’s Office.

The second instance magistrate granted safe-conduct to two businessmen suspected of working in the logistics of illegal mining on Yanomami land, the largest in Brazil. Thus, the two could not be arrested in the course of the investigations.

The judge also ordered the release of 44% of the values ​​and assets seized, “for can continue their financial activities”.

The overthrow of the blockade of assets included aircraft suspected of being involved in the extraction of gold from the Yanomami land.

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The judge’s decision was revealed by Sheet4026 this Wednesday (5). Despite the evidence presented by the MPF, she stated that “the demonstration of the risk of serious damage or difficult repair was not evidenced” and that “there are elements of possible illegality in the chain of evidence” .

Maria do Carmo is called “Tia Carminha” by the Bolsonaro family, with whom she is close.The judge is a friend of senator Flávio Bolsonaro (PL-RJ) and acts as a kind of legal advisor to the family.

She was decisive in the appointment of and Nunes Marques, who worked in the TRF-1, to the chair of minister of the STF (Supreme Federal Court).

An organizational chart reproduced by the MPF in the document sent to the TRF-1 shows transfers of undertakings that explore gold to Rogério dos Santos, who would be associated with Tarp Táxi Aéreo, the target of investigations by the PF and MPF.

The company, according to the accusation, was used for illegal gold mining in Roraima and for money laundering resulting from such exploitation.

The organization chart shows transfers from Ourominas, São Paulo (BRL 1,35 million); from GG Travassos de Melo and Coopouro (Cooperative of Gold Miners and Producers of Tapajós), from Itaituba (PA), in the amounts of R$ 1,400 million and R$ 500, 6 thousand, respectively; and Sierra Madre Metais, in São José do Rio Preto (SP), in the amount of R$ 2014, 1 thousand.

“The company is unaware of the facts investigated and does not use an air taxi company in its commercial activity. Commercial matters, in addition to having fiscal support, are subject to compliance and are protected by the fiscal secrecy and LGPD [lei geral de proteção de dados]”, stated Ourominas, in a note.

GG Travassos and Coopouro did not respond to the messages in the report. Contacts for Sierra Madre Metais were not found.

Gana Gold Mineração and Coomari (Cooperativa Mineradora de Ariquemes, Rondônia) made transfers directly to Tarp, according to the organizational chart. The values ​​were BRL 1,44 million and BRL 759 thousand, respectively.

“The mining company explores mining activities within the legality and the contracting of a service company Air transport is part of its business activity, but rejects any link between the company and illegal mining activity. The company is legally constituted and has more than 1.69 direct and indirect employees,” stated Ghana Gold, in a note.

Coomari claimed not to know about the transfer of R$ 759 thousand and the investigation of PF and MPF. “As soon as it becomes aware of the investigation, the necessary information will be provided to the competent authorities”, he said, in a note.

According to the MPF, there are indications that Tarp is a ghost company, with movement of BRL 44 million between October 2019 and October 2020.

O businessman Rodrigo Martins de Mello, who got the preliminary injunction from judge Maria do Carmo, is also “very likely” one of those responsible for the Tarp.

He is a partner at Cataratas Artesian Wells, where helicopters were seized by Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency) in August, in Boa Vista, and by Icaraí Turismo Táxi Aéreo.

Tarp, Cataratas and Icaraí made million dollar transactions of resources between them, according to the investigations. The transfers included the owner of the companies.

From 2016 to 2019, Tarp received R$ 19, 1 million from the federal government for transport related to indigenous health. To Cataratas, BRL 8.6 million, between 2014 and 2016. And Icaraí received R$ 30, 6 million between 2018 and September 2020.

The payments were revealed by Folha2021 in an article published in 19 of September.

The MPF stated that a prosecutor of Rodrigo Mello , Brunna Martins de Mello, made cash withdrawals at a bank in Roraima, for R$ 500 thousand and R$ 500 thousand, in April 2020. The purpose of the withdrawals were “payments”, as informed to the bank.

The investigations pointed out the existence of a group of messages per application “to share information with several pilots about of inspection activities by public agencies”.

The apprehended aircraft had “very serious irregularities”, according to the MPF, including denial of air traffic by Anac.

The most serious situation is that of a helicopter registered in the name of the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro, apprehended during the ANAC operation in August. The existence of this aircraft, with suspected mining operations in Yanomami land, was revealed by Folha.

“[A aeronave] went through a process of cannibalism, having been classified by the police authority as ‘true Frankenstein’, insofar as it was formatted from the junction of the structure of several aircraft”, stated a representation of the PF and MPF.

In a note, the lawyer of the investigated, responsible for habeas corpus in TRF-1, Ana Paula de Souza Cruz, he said that the questions raised by the report concern an ongoing and confidential investigation.

“Nothing can be addressed by the police or the MPF or by the lawyers or the parties “, she said.

About habeas corpus, the lawyer said that the objective was “to put an end to the various illegalities being committed by the federal delegate responsible for the case, by the Anac and by some inspectors from Ibama”.

The decision of the TR F-1 is “technical, legal and correct” and is justified on grounds such as illegal evidence, violation of telephone content, alteration of public document and abuse of authority, said Cruz.

“There are no signs of the businessman on indigenous land. No illegal ore was seized either at the company or with it.”

The TRF-1 did not respond to questions in the report about the decision of Judge Maria do Carmo.

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