Starlink Terminals Found in Illegal Mining Areas of Brazil's Amazon

Brazilian criminals are using Starlink terminals to conduct illegal activities in mining areas in dense regions of the Amazon.

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Material obtained at the illegal mining site in Brazil's Amazon
Photo: AP News (AP)

Brazilian authorities seized a Starlink terminal on Tuesday following a series of internet use by criminals in illegal mining areas. Starlink terminals are being used to help carry out these activities in Brazil’s Amazon, prompting numerous investigations by local authorities who seek to remove crime from the area.

Located in the deep parts of the Amazon, the Brazilian environment agency’s special inspection group and the federal highway police rapid response group came upon a Starlink site in Yanomami. The agents reportedly encountered gunfire as the criminals, known as the country’s most feared criminal organization called First Command of the Capital fled, leaving behind one Starlink satellite and other evidence, AP News reported.

Local Brazilian agents found an illegal mining site using Starlink terminals
Photo: AP News (AP)

The agents reportedly found “21 ounces of mercury, .5 ounces of gold, 508 ammunition cartridges,” and the organization’s personal documents. As confirmed by AP News, agents also destroyed “848 gallons of fuel, four mining barges, 12 generators, 23 camping and storage units, and seven outboard motors.”

The Starlink terminals are owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and were intended to connect residents in the remote areas of the Amazon, according to a deal proposed by Musk last year. At the time, he and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced by bringing Starlink terminals to the Amazon, it would connect schools to the internet and monitor illegal logging across the rainforest.


However, the opposite has occurred in this instance, with criminals turning to the terminals for reliable internet that is able to connect them to coordinated logistics and warn of them of law enforcement raids. The systems also reportedly provide easier access to making payments without requiring them to travel back to the city.

In the past five weeks, agents seized seven Starlink terminals in the Amazon and are looking into ways to block the signal in areas used for illegal mining. A local unnamed official told AP News, “This measure is crucial to dismantling the logistics that sustain illegal mining in Indigenous Territories.”


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