Five additional suspects in the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, were arrested by Brazil’s federal police on Saturday.
The pair were killed in the Vale do Javari region of the Amazon rainforest in June.
Police said in a statement that seven arrest warrants were issued for illegal fishing in Vale do Javari.
The region has been invaded by illegal fishermen, loggers and gold miners. Police say it is also a key drug trafficking route.
Two of the seven suspects were already in custody, Ruben Dario da Silva Villar “Colombia” and Amarildo Costa de Oliveira “Pelado”. Three of the newly arrested men were relatives of Costa and were involved in concealing the bodies of Philips and Pereira, police said.
According to police, da Silva was the leader and financier of an armed gang involved in illegal fishing and exporting illegally caught fish to other countries. Da Silva is a Colombian citizen and also used a Peruvian document, police said.
Pereira had previously clashed with the Costa over illegal fishing within the indigenous territories.
Federal prosecutors have said that Pereira and Phillips were killed because they had asked to photograph the suspects.
Indigenous leaders who worked with Pereira accuse da Silva of ordering him killed as payback for having organized Indigenous patrols in the region, which seized hauls of illegally caught fish.