Report: Amazon tribe may have fallen victim to drug traffickers
Aerial images of the uncontacted tribe in Brazil's Amazon rain forest were released in February.
August 9th, 2011
07:32 AM ET

Report: Amazon tribe may have fallen victim to drug traffickers

Suspected Peruvian drug traffickers have destroyed a guard post protecting a recently discovered indigenous tribe in Brazil's Amazon rain forest, the aid group Survival International reports.

Aerial film and still images of the tribe were first shown to the world in February. The Brazilian government's National Indian Foundation established the guard station near the tribe's territory along Brazil's border with Peru to protect the Indians from outsiders.

Survival International said Monday that Brazilian authorities can now find no sign of the tribe.

"We think the Peruvians made the Indians flee. ... We are more worried than ever. This situation could be one of the biggest blows we have ever seen in the protection of uncontacted Indians in recent decades. It’s a catastrophe," Carlos Travassos, the head of Brazil's isolated Indians department, said in a Survival International statement.

Survival International reports the tribe's lands are near the Envira River, which Peruvian cocaine smugglers reportedly use as a route into Brazil.

Brazilian authorities report groups of men armed with machine guns and rifles are in the nearby forest, according to the aid group.

Authorities had recovered a drug trafficker's rucksack with a broken Indian arrow in it, Survival International reported.

"This is extremely distressing news. There is no knowing how many tribal peoples the drug trade has wiped out in the past, but all possible measures should be taken to stop it happening again. The world’s attention should be on these uncontacted Indians, just as it was at the beginning of this year when they were first captured on film," Survival International Director Stephen Corry said in a statement.

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Filed under: Brazil • World
soundoff (765 Responses)
  1. Oliver

    I guess the drug dealers are too ignorant to realize what they are destroying.

    August 9, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Babs

      If they were smart...they wouldn't be drug trafficers...

      August 9, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • JW

      @Babs If America was smart, we wouldn't enable drug traffickers.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Neeneko


      How so? It is good money, less work, and better job security then the majority of the jobs open to the people.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      @Neeneko, but the benefits packages suck! Seriously, most people are deterred from jobs like drug trafficker because of the high likelihood of premature and violent death. Those who do engage in this activity are therefore likely to be mentally unstable or stupid.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. FireThemAll

    interesting looking tribe.

    August 9, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      Fake photo! This was taken on a Hollywood set, I mean, look really close!
      The man on the right is painted up like an old school spiderman!
      The man in the middle is painted up like an Uruk-hai of Mordor!
      And the one on the left with the spear looks like the Djinn from Wishmaster!

      August 9, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Zoe

      Didn't this picture first show up as a Tribe Found in Central Park?

      August 9, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. Granite Sentry

    One set of barbarians doing in another set. Pretty much par for the course.

    August 9, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • tigersighting

      Barbarians were in Europe. And based on your response, they may have traveled to the US.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      That was the same mentality that destroyed the all but wiped out the Native American tribes in America. I thought that ignorance was long gone, but from your comment evidently not.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      Actually, I thought barbarians were from Cimmeria.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Open711

      I was always a fan of the Vandals. I really respect the street art they pioneered in Rome.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Leighton

    Why would it be to drug traffickers' advantage to kill native tribes?
    Oh–they needed the river.
    I have always found that the humans most concerned with preserving native tribes in the jungle were drug traffickers. They really care.

    August 9, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      If traffickers are using that section of the forest to transport shipments, the indigenous tribes probably were not very happy with people tramping around their territory and started shooting arrows at them. Drug dealers being drug dealers, they probably responded to that like they would anyone else shooting at them... with machine guns. Poor Indians never stood a chance.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. Peter

    It could be Peruvian drug traffickers hiding as a tribe and fled when they got unwanted attention.

    August 9, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. GenXorcist

    Is that Spider-man?

    August 9, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. fritz65

    One would think that cultural anthropologists, actually the whole lot of the scientific community, would leave these people alone. Maybe it's not that they were "discovered" as opposed to "CHOSE" to live isolated from the rest of the world. If this is the case, I applaud their decision, however hold great contempt for the lecherous media who "outted" this tribe for money and/or fame. Now that they've suffered the probable fate of so many in a nation stepped in violence, kudo's to the media: add this tribe the list as they've undoubtedly gone the way of the dodo!

    August 9, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Neeneko

      I highly doubt that drug traffickers who were already intimatly familiar with the area found out about a tribe via the news and decided to go do something about them. Since this group was discovered years ago, they probably eventually got in the way of a route or a route shifted to cross their land.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mary Jane

    Spiderman? Is that where you've been hiding?

    August 9, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. MJ

    Are these people for real ? With all that is going on in OUR world (unemployment, economy, gas prices, etc) the world should turn all attention to this ? These people survived all this time on their own. And I am sure that these drug trafficers have been using this area for a long time as well. So if they are colliding now then it's natural selection time

    August 9, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
    • alex

      are you for real? things do happen outside of the states, and not everyone needs to be focused on us. no where in the article are any US resources being mentioned to address this issue, so unless you are complaining that brazil and peru aren't trying to help us resolve our economic problems then you are making no sense.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    Wait, isn't it supposed to be offensive to use the word 'Indians' to refer to native / indigenous people? Obviously Brazil has not reached the level of politically correct nirvana that the United States has...

    August 9, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Also Chris

      Who knows... I think these days, they actually find the term "Native American" more offensive, since it implies they were the first Americans, when to them it was never America in the first place. I've heard Indians refer to themselves as Indians, so I don't think it's offensive to them.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • RichieP

      They speak Portugese in Brazil. I guarantee they don't say "indians." If they were speaking Spanish, they would have said "indigens" which means indigenous people.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Must have been a bad translation then.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. EatThemUpYum

    One of those guys looks like Spiderman. If he's on the case what's the worry?!

    August 9, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. ian

    What a sad, horrible development.

    August 9, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. dj200876

    I remember when this story first happened, but wasn't there a follow-up story like 2 weeks or so later that proved this particular photo and people were a hoax? Or was the follow-up story a hoax to keep people away? Not that the media or any government would ever lie to us.

    August 9, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Not real?

    I thought this photo was proven to not be of an uncontacted tribe a year or two ago, and was thought to be a hoax be less-than-scrupulous environmentalists.

    I would think a totally uncontacted group of humans would run in fear of a helicopter flying low and circling them.

    August 9, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Neeneko

      Actually it was the 'hoax' follow up that was a hoax or at minimal a piece of bad reporting that was quickly retracted. though like all retracted reports, the original 'it is all a hoax!' piece got a lot more attention then the 'oops we screwed up' one and has lived on.

      It should also be noted that 'uncontacted' does not mean they are not aware of outsiders... aircraft pass overhead routinely and they were known to trade via other tribes for modern goods like guns and machettes. Uncontacted means the tribe has not had any direct contact with outside groups.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Just because they're uncontacted doesn't mean they're not aware of the number of mechanical vehicles flying around above them. They may not have an understanding of what they are, but they know they're there.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The Sentinelese certainly have no fear of helicopters. They shoot at them.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. 2Die4

    I want to know where they got the paint or is that their natural color?

    August 9, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      They ordered it through their local Avon Lady.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      They got their paint from the same places our ancestors got their paint long before the advent of Home Depot, from the forest.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • ohboy

      its blood

      August 9, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
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