"Deforesters are plundering the Amazon. Brazil is letting them get away with it."
"BRASILÉIA, Brazil — Daniel Valle sped down Highway 317, closing in on the first targets of the day. He was in a hurry. Deforestation alerts had tripled in recent weeks. Police were warning that armed criminal groups had invaded new territory. Another season of destroying the Amazon rainforest was here, and in this corner, the only check on the looming ecological disaster was this: Valle’s small team of inspectors in a dirt-splattered pickup truck.
“This is it,” said Valle, 39, pulling off the highway. A roving state environmental inspector, he traveled throughout this remote land that was increasingly under threat from a wave of destruction that had leveled the forests to the east. His job was to slow its advance. The challenge felt futile most days. But especially today.
His crew was in southern Acre, where the federal government under President Jair Bolsonaro — a longtime critic of environmental regulation — no longer staffed a single inspector. That meant his state agency, the Acre Environmental Institute, now bore the burden of enforcing environmental law in this area of more than 3,600 square miles along the border with Bolivia.
Valle pulled out his target list. The map showed 16 points of illegal devastation — pinpricks of red piercing an expanse of green and brown."