Fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, nicknamed Pelado, confessed that he shot Phillips and Pereira and has been under arrest since soon after the killings in early June. He and three other relatives are accused of participating in the crime. They all live in an impoverished riverine community inside a federal agrarian reform settlement between the city of Atalaia do Norte and Javari Valley Indigenous Territory.
Villar has denied any wrongdoing in the case. Before Monday’s announcement, he was already being held on charges of using false Brazilian and Peruvian documents and leading an illegal fishing scheme. According to the investigation, he financed local fishermen to fish inside Javari Valley Indigenous Territory.
In a statement, UNIVAJA, the local Indigenous association that employed Pereira, said it believed there were other significant planners behind the killings who have not been arrested.
Pereira and Phillips were traveling in the remote area of the Amazon when they disappeared, and their bodies were recovered after the confessions. Phillips was researching for a book about how to save the world’s largest rainforest.
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