Pantanal Rancher under Investigation for Chemical Deforestation on 81,000 Hectares

Defense claims degradation comes from fires


Businessman Claudecy Oliveira Lemes is suspected of deforesting an area of 81,000 hectares in the Pantanal in Mato Grosso using agrochemicals irregularly. The purpose of the so-called "chemical deforestation" would be to convert the area into pasture for cattle ranching, according to the state Public Prosecutor's Office, which is investigating the case.

Lawyer Fernando Faria, responsible for the rancher's defense, said he did not commit environmental crimes. In a statement, the defense asserts that the degradation of the area resulted from fires that occurred between 2020 and 2023 and that the inquiry "produced evidence unilaterally, without exercising the right to rebuttal."

In addition to the landowner, two others have become targets: the pilot of the aircraft allegedly used for the agrochemical dumping and the technician who allegedly chose the chemical products, determining application method, frequency, and quantity.

Claudecy is already the target of three criminal actions and nine civil inquiries. In the investigation, the Public Prosecutor's Office points to "very serious recurring environmental crimes" in at least seven contiguous rural properties.

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