Brazil opens environmental police academy in Amazon

The environmental movement in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is arming itself, literally, for the fight against illegal mining, animal and plant piracy, and other crimes against nature. This week, Brazil’s federal government opened Latin America’s largest environmental police academy — 135 square miles of Amazon land devoted to training agents to raid illegal camps, shoot straight in the jungle, and, the government hopes, slow the rapid destruction of the massive rainforest thought to contain 10 percent of the world’s freshwater and 30 percent of the world’s plant and animal species. But environmental altruism isn’t the only motivation. Environmental crimes in the forest, including its destruction, are estimated to cost the cash-strapped country billions of dollars each year. “The wealth of this country is the environment and the federal police has been told to protect that wealth,” said Agent Delano Lopes, rarin’ to go.