Jack Nicas, The Times’s Brazil correspondent, and Victor Moriyama, a photographer, accompanied Brazilian agents on a helicopter trip roughly 250 miles into the Amazon rainforest to search for illegal gold mines.
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“YANOMAMI INDIGENOUS TERRITORY, Brazil — The illegal tin mine was so remote that, for three years, the massive gash it cut into the Amazon rainforest had gone largely ignored.
So when three mysterious helicopters suddenly hovered overhead, unannounced, the miners living there scrambled into the forest.
By the time Brazil’s environmental special forces team piled out, the miners were out of sight, but the mine’s two large pumps were still vibrating in the mud. The federal agents began dousing the machines in diesel fuel.
As they were set to ignite them, about two-dozen Indigenous people came jogging out of the forest, carrying bows and arrows taller than them. They were from the Yanomami tribe, and the miners had been destroying their land — and their tribe — for years.”