The Guardian: World’s biggest meat company linked to ‘brutal massacre’ in Amazon

World’s biggest meat company linked to ‘brutal massacre’ in Amazon

Investigation traces meat sold to JBS and rival Marfrig to farm owned by man implicated in Mato Grosso killings

Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

Tue 3 Mar 2020 08.31 EST

Protests against the illegal timber trade in Brazil have highlighted the number of people killed while defending the forest. Photograph: Eraldo Peres/AP

A new investigation has linked the world’s biggest meat company JBS, and its rival Marfrig, to a farm whose owner is implicated in one of the most brutal Amazonian massacres in recent memory.

The report by Repórter Brasil comes as JBS faces growing pressure over transparency failings in its Amazon cattle supply chain.

On 19 April 2017, nine men were brutally murdered in what became known as the “Colniza massacre”. The men had been squatting on remote forest land in the state of Mato Grosso when their bodies were found, according to court documents. Some showed signs of torture; some had been stabbed, others shot.

According to charges filed by state prosecutors in Mato Grosso, the massacre was carried out by a gang known as “the hooded ones”. The aim, they said, was to terrify locals, take over land they lived on and extract valuable natural resources. The first reporter to reach the lawless, far-flung region only got there a week later.

House of farmer and evangelical pastor Sebastião de Souza in Taquarussu do Norte, Brazil, one of the men murdered in the Colniza massacre. Photograph: Fabiano Maisonnave/Courtesy of Climate Home

On 15 May 2017, prosecutors said they had charged Valdelir João de Souza, a farmer who owned two timber companies on neighbouring land, and four others with homicide and forming or being part of an illegal paramilitary group. Prosecutors said de Souza had ordered the massacre, although he had not been present when it occurred.

Since then de Souza has been a fugitive. MORE