Brazilian troops and police seized about 500 truckloads of illegal hardwood timber from the Amazon rainforest over the weekend, following riots and protests by sawmill workers and others that had forced out environmental inspectors earlier in the week. After the inspectors were driven out, they came back days later with over 450 troops to confiscate illegal timber that the government has said will be sold to raise money for rainforest protection. The seizure is part of the Brazilian government’s plans, unveiled last month, to step up environmental enforcement in the Amazon, including inspections of companies operating in the area. The Amazon rainforest has experienced massive deforestation in recent years due mainly to illegal logging, soy cultivation, and cattle ranching. About 2,700 square miles of Amazon rainforest were destroyed in Brazil last year between August and December. “We don’t want a confrontation with the people,” said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “We’re fighting criminals, and these people unfortunately manipulate the local residents.”