CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan criminal investigators have launched inquiries into the murder of an indigenous leader, who was killed on June 30 in the country’s southern Amazonas state, the police said on Tuesday.
Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a 38-year-old indigenous Uwottuja man, was a defender of the Venezuelan Amazon and had set up community groups to act as guardians of the Autana municipality of Amazonas.
He opposed armed groups and illegal mining.
“Drug traffickers and paramilitaries who intend to take over national territory are presumed to be involved in the event,” Douglas Rico, director of the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Corps, wrote in a message on Twitter.
Police have sent a team from the homicide investigation division to assist with the task, he added.
Advocacy groups defending indigenous rights have asked authorities to investigate the murder since last week.
Non-governmental organizations have reported the presence of criminal groups in Amazonas that control gold mines in the jungle and have accused them of murdering people.
The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has asked the government to regularize mining activities and guarantee that they are carried out under international and environmental standards.
(Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Ediging by Bill Berkrot)