Government Crackdown on Illegal Amazon Gold Mining Could Backfire for Brazil’s Munduruku

Last month, a series of police and military actions in the remote forests of Brazil’s Tapajós basin struck at the foundation of a flourishing criminal gold mining network. Acting upon information provided by Munduruku leadership seeking to end this toxic industry, law enforcement destroyed heavy equipment, fined wildcat miners, and raided the offices of local gold traders.

These actions signaled decreasing government tolerance for extensive illegal mining operations in the Brazilian Amazon. The government action that followed, however, set ambiguous precedents for future enforcement and led to intensified direct threats upon Munduruku leaders fighting to defend their lands and culture from more mining.