Thursday, June 2, 2005

A Vast Criminal Network

Imagine a criminal network -- a functioning conspiracy -- involving more than a hundred people. Imagine that some of these people are working on the outside, committing crimes which normally would be easily detected, while others -- government officials -- are working on the inside to enable the crimes, and to protect the perpetrators.

cat in a tin-foil hat

Do I sound like a cat in a tin-foil hat? If you think so, you might be better off with a stainless steel funnel! But don't worry; I know where to get one.

stainless steel funnel

Here. Put this on. You'll feel better.

Now imagine that this criminal conspiracy does its thing, unknown and unopposed, for more than a decade. Imagine that it takes in hundreds of millions of dollars while doing its country vast and irreparable harm. Can you take any more of this? Try to stay with me, now, because it gets better ...

Imagine that the police get wind of the conspiracy, and they actually decide to do something about it. Imagine that they find evidence implicating dozens of government officials, including some who are very highly-placed, and yet they persist. Imagine that they compile a list of more than a hundred suspects before they strike, and that in one raid they arrest most of the people on their list.

Imagine that this story gets noticed by the international press, and carried in foreign media. Imagine that this breakthrough means the end of a vast criminal network which has been robbing its country for years.

Am I dreaming? No! I'm just reporting.

Welcome to Brazil.

Kindly disregard the huge Gay Pride march going on in Sao Paulo, and come along with me ... to the Amazon Rain Forest...

actual crime scene photo

Here you see a tiny fraction of what the vast criminal network has done. More than $370 million worth of Amazon rain forest has been illegally cut and sold over a fifteen-year period, according to the BBC:

Swoop on Brazilian logging gang
Brazilian police have issued arrest warrants for 124 people following the discovery of a massive illegal logging operation in the Amazon rain forest.
You can read the rest here of course, but I will give you a few choice paragraphs to get you started:
The suspects include senior civil servants working for the government's environmental protection agency, Ibama.

They are accused of providing false documents which allowed the timber to be transported.
These operations are a bitter-sweet victory for the authorities.

On the one hand, they show that illegal activity can be exposed at a time when deforestation rates are at a 10-year high.

But they also suggest a shocking level of corruption. In this case, the alleged criminals include people whose job it was to protect the rain forest.
Of course the first question that comes to mind when contemplating a crimal conspiracy of this magnitude is: How can the republicans blame all this on the democrats?

It won't be easy, but I'm sure they're working on it.