"SAO PAULO - When the presidents of Amazon nations including Brazil, Peru and Colombia meet at a regional summit next week, they will train their sights on a new breed of criminal just as comfortable chopping down the rainforest as shipping drugs overseas.
"Narco-deforestation," as it was referred to in a United Nations report last month, represents a new target for law enforcement operating in the Amazon rainforest, where the lines between specialist criminal outfits are increasingly blurred.
The eight member countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), who are due to meet in the northeastern Brazilian city of Belem for an Aug. 8-9 summit, are expected to reach an agreement to cooperate on combating such crimes, said Carlos Lazary, the organization's executive director.
"We're worried about the Amazon," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who proposed the summit on the campaign trail, said in a speech last month. "It's there that organized crime, drug trafficking and everything illegal is fomented.""