The technology was meant to provide connectivity in the Amazon rainforest, but criminals are using it.
Brazilian federal agents are increasingly finding Starlink internet units on the sites they raid in the Amazon rainforest.
The agents are shot at, and the criminals often escape, but the technology is being left behind.
Starlink internet services are a division of Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The company has nearly 4,000 satellites in low orbit, providing with people in remote areas of the world – such as the Amazon rainforest – with online connectivity. The service has been vital to Ukrainian forces in their fight against Russian invaders.
The high-speed units are lightweight and while they have provided communities around the world with crucial connections when they would otherwise be cut off, the system is also proving to be a valuable tool to criminals in Brazil. More specifically, it is illegal miners in the country who are taking advantage of the connection. It provides them with reliable service to coordinate logistics, the ability to make payments without the need to travel back to the city and can even give them advance notice of a potential law enforcement raid.
Brazilian law enforcement agents are consistently finding Starlink internet units at their raids.
The Brazilian environmental agency’s special inspection group’s agents, and those from the federal highway police rapid response group recently found one of the Starlink internet terminals in full operation next to an illegal mining pit, said an anonymous officer who was a part of the raid and who was cited in a CTV News report.
The agents were also able to seize gold, mercury and ammunition, in addition to other mining equipment and destroyed fuel. The raid took place in an area called Ouro Mil, which is currently under the control of one of the most powerful and devastating criminal organizations in Brazil, known as the First Command of the Capital, according to reports from federal investigators.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been working to crack down on illegal mining operations and other environmental violations on Yanomi land, the largest Indigenous territory in the country. This has been a focus for the president since he first took office earlier this year.