On May 19, 2021 the Brazilian Federal Police launched Operação Akuanduba to investigate potential links between Brazilian officials and the suspected illegal trade of wood products by Brazilian and U.S. lumber companies.

See: U.S. seizes wood in Seattle and New Orleans for return to Brazil: Globo

About 160 federal police officers served 35 search and seizure warrants in the Federal District and in the states of São Paulo and Pará.

Included in these search and seizure warrants are two Brazilian timber industry associations – AIMEX and CONFLORESTA – and three Brazilian lumber companies, one of which has an import and distribution branch in the United States. (Of these three, one is chain-of-custody certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and it’s parent company holds a Responsible Timber Purchaser certificate from the Timber Trade Federation.

Reasons cited for the warrants include irregularities in Ipe and Jatoba shipments to two U.S. lumber companies. At least part of the information was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read the full Supreme Court decision here.

In addition to the searches, the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil determined the preventive removal of 10 public servants in IBAMA and the Ministry of the Environment. (Warrants were also issued for the Minister of Environment, Ricardo Salles, and the President of IBAMA – but now removed, Eduardo Bim.)

Operation Akuanduba is part of a broader investigation that began in January of this year following information from U.S. authorities of possible misconduct by Brazilian public servants in the timber export process.

See: Samples of Ipe, Jatoba and other wood exported from Brazil are collected at American ports for analysis

Akuanduba is a deity from the mythology of the Araras Indians, who inhabit the state of Pará. According to legend, if someone committed an excess, contrary to the norms, the deity would sound a small flute, restoring order.

Cooperation between the two countries in forest law enforcement have been increasing since Operation Archimedes in which about 400 containers were seized in the Amazonas port of Manaus.

This is a developing story. Last updated May 24, 2021 9:24am EST.

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