June 10 (UPI) — Investigators found blood in a boat owned by a man suspected of being involved in the disappearance of a British journalist and Indigenous expert who went missing in the Amazon, Brazil’s Federal Police said.
Police announced the find Thursday, though it’s unclear who the blood belongs to or whether it’s from a human. Amazonas state security Secretary-General Carlos Alberto Mansir said Wednesday that authorities arrested a man who was in possession of “a lot of drugs” and ammunition believed to be used for illegal hunting.
CNN reported police also questioned five other people suspected of being involved in the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous researcher Bruno Araújo Pereira. Authorities said they were considering all possibilities, including homicide.
The Guardian reported that many searchers and Indigenous activists believe Phillips and Pereira were the victims of illegal hunting and fishing gangs in the area. Carol Santana, a legal adviser for the Javari Indigenous association, told the newspaper that activists believe the two may be the victims of “forced disappearances.”
“We are not necessarily saying they’re no longer alive,” she said.
The two were reported missing Monday after they received death threats.
Phillips was working on a book about the environment and was traveling with Pereira, who has received numerous death threats for defending Indigenous groups against illegal mining, fishing and logging.
The two men were last seen riding on a boat in the Itui and Itaqui rivers after a multi-day visit with Indigenous communities, according to a statement from the Union of Indigenous Organizations of Javari Valley and the Observatory for Human Rights for Isolated and Recently Contacted Indigenous Peoples.
The pair was expected to return by river to Altalaia do Norte by Sunday morning. A search party was sent out that afternoon when they failed to arrive.
Sheri Walsh contributed to this report.