Brazil’s federal police announced Tuesday that a second suspect has been arrested in connection to the disappearance of a British journalist and former Indigenous official in a remote area of the Brazilian Amazon.
Oseney da Costa de Oliveira was placed under temporary arrest on suspicion he was involved in the case with his brother Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, the man police view as the primary suspect in the case. Oseney da Costa de Oliveira told The Associated Press Friday he had visited his brother in jail and that he was told police had tortured his brother on his own boat.
Police had reported finding traces of blood in Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira’s boat. Organic matter of possible human origin was discovered in the river. The materials are being analyzed.
Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira was arrested on a charge of illegal possession of restricted ammunition and a judge ordered that he be held for another 30 days as the investigation into the disappearances continues.
The arrests came amid a search for British journalist Dom Phillips and former Indigenous official Bruno Pereira, who were both last seen on June 5 near the Javari Valley Indigenous territory in a remote area of the Brazilian Amazon bordering Peru and Colombia.
According to Indigenous people who were with Pereira and Phillips, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira brandished a rifle the day before the men went missing.
The suspect has denied any wrongdoing and has said police have tortured him to get a confession, his family told the AP.
The search for the missing men continued Tuesday after two bodies were reportedly found in the rainforest. Federal police said in a statement Monday that the bodies of the two missing men have still not been found.
And items belonging to the men were recovered Sunday. These articles include a backpack, laptop, health card and clothes.
Search teams are looking around an area in the Itaquai River where volunteers from the Matis Indigenous group reported Saturday that they had found a tarp from the boat used by the two men.
The area of the men’s disappearance has seen violent conflicts between fishermen, poachers and government agents. Violence has worsened as drug trafficking gangs fight for control of waterways to transport cocaine. The Itaquai, however, is not a known drug trafficking route.
Pereira has previously led FUNAI, the local bureau of the Brazilian government’s Indigenous agency, and has participated in several operations against illegal fishing. These operations typically involve fishing gear being seized or destroyed while the fishermen are fined and briefly detained.
The Indigenous are the only ones who can legally fish in their territories.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.