SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The Brazilian armed forces have started Operation Agata 4 in a large area of the Amazon to tackle drug trafficking, illegal logging and mining.
More than 8,500 military personnel from the army, air force and navy, along with civil authorities, started patrolling Brazil's 3,100-mile northern border, which touches Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana, on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. On the first day of patrols, the military found at least 10 hidden airstrips.
"This operation is being carried out in an area that consists of a large blind spot for us," General Eduardo Dias da Costa Villas Boas said to the Journal.
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The large military operation has caused some apprehension among Brazil's bordering countries, reported BBC News. But the Brazilian government said it informed its neighbors of its activities, and Defense Minister General José Carlos de Nardi visited the countries in person to explain the operation.
"I explained that it is aimed at combating crime and reinforcing the presence of the Brazilian government in the border region, one of the most remote areas of our territory," said de Nardi to BBC.
According to the International Business Times, the armed forces will bomb any illegal landing strips they find and seize planes used for drug trafficking. They will also shut down illegal logging and mining operations found on protected land belonging to indigenous tribes. Medical services from doctors and dentists will be provided to remote villages in the Amazon area.