Smoke still billowed above the Amazonian canopy as Jaime Sales clambered atop a 3-metre-high stack of razed trees. "Victory," he exclaimed, letting his shotgun drop loose and surveying the battered forest around him.

At the vanguard of a small team of armed environmental enforcers, the corporal with Pará's environmental military police unit had ventured deep into the jungle near Altamira in the northern Brazilian state, which has been the site of persistent conflict over deforestation.

His reward was the seizure of the massive illegal timber bounty — a haul he estimated to be worth "millions" of dollars on the black

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