"ALTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Armed government officials with Brazil’s justice, Indigenous and environment ministries pressed illegal gold miners out of Yanomami Indigenous territory Wednesday, citing widespread river contamination, famine and disease they have brought to one of the most isolated groups in the world.
People involved in illegal gold dredging streamed away from the territory on foot. The operation could take months. There are believed to be some 20,000 people engaged in the activity, often using toxic mercury to separate the gold. An estimated 30,000 Yanomami people live in Brazil’s largest Indigenous territory, which covers an area roughly the size of Portugal and stretches across Roraima and Amazonas states in the northwest corner of Brazil’s Amazon.
The authorities — the Brazilian environmental agency Ibama, with support from the National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples and the National Guard — found an airplane, a bulldozer, and makeshift lodges and hangars, and destroyed them — as permitted by law. Two guns and three boats with 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) of fuel were seized. They also discovered a helicopter hidden in the forest and set it ablaze."
Fabiano Maisonnave and Edmar Barros report for the Associated Press February 8, 2023.