A recent operation in northern Brazil has put a spotlight on the country’s often overlooked illegal diamond trade, but authorities are only scratching the surface of the fast-growing criminal economy.
In late September, Brazilian authorities launched a massive operation to curb illegal diamond mining in the Roosevelt Indigenous reserve between the northern states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso, Globo reported.
The operation consisted of raids across eight states that targeted illegal miners, intermediaries who valued the diamonds, companies selling them and even Indigenous residents who collaborated with the miners.
According to Globo, the large-scale investigation began in 2018 after local police caught three people smuggling diamonds from the reserve. Over the next two years, investigators uncovered a transnational criminal network estimated to move about $20 million per month from illegal mining.
Many of the diamonds were sold in jewelry shops, either domestically in São Paulo, or abroad in France, Switzerland and Italy.
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