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Brazil: Isolated Tribe Missing After Drug Traffickers Attack


First Posted: 08/09/11 04:15 PM ET Updated: 10/09/11 06:12 AM ET

Peruvian drug traffickers may have attacked an indigenous tribe in the Amazon that had been living in complete isolation up until now. Officials working for FUNAI, the Brazilian government's department for indigenous affairs, sent out alarming reports on Monday saying the Xinane outpost had been attacked and the uncontacted tribe they were monitoring might be in grave danger.

The missing tribe became famous in 2008, when photos released by FUNAI showed tribesmen painted in red pointing arrows at a plane flying overhead.

“We think the Peruvians made the Indians flee…We are more concerned than ever. This could be one of the biggest blows in decades to the work of protecting isolated Indians," Carlos Travassos, the FUNAI official in charge of the isolated Indians division, was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor.

FUNAI officials reported the Xinane outpost in Brazil's Acre region was attacked by armed Peruvian cocaine traffickers on July 23. FUNAI's five-man research team, which is tasked with monitoring and protecting the tribes for signs of invaders, was forced to flee the camp. After an intervention of the Brazilian federal police and army, researchers returned on August 5th, yet claimed traffickers were still hiding in the forest. FUNAI reported on Monday that its officers had been unable to locate the remote tribe living in the region. According to the Christian Science Monitor, researchers were increasingly worried as they found an arrow in a traffickers' abandoned backpack.

According to The Guardian, police arrested a Portugese man Joaquim Antônio Custódio Fadista, who had been held for drug trafficking before.

The Xinane outpost is located close to the Brazil-Peru border, in a region that is home to some of the most isolated tribes on earth.

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Filed by Eline Gordts  |  Report Corrections