Starlink hardware found in illegal mines operating in the Brazilian Amazon

Starlink used for illegal mining in Brazil Amazon courtesy of AP News

As Starlink becomes more available, it has started to attract the wrong crowd. Brazilian authorities have reported seizing several terminals used by criminals running illegal mines in the Amazon, as reported by Gizmodo. The alleged offenders use Starlink to facilitate their illegal enterprise, drawing the attention of local law enforcement.

The environmental agency’s special inspection group, in the company of the federal highway police, made the discovery deep in the Amazon in a place known as Yanomami. The gang, the most feared in the country, known as the First Command of the Capital, reportedly fired at the agents. However, the criminals fled, leaving behind a Starlink terminal and other devices.

The agents also found 21 ounces of mercury, .5 ounces of gold, 508 ammunition cartridges, some documents belonging to the organization, fuel, generators, mining barges, outboard motors, and camping implements.

The Starlink terminal has been traced to the deal between SpaceX and the Brazilian government. The terminals were meant to connect remote schools to the internet and help to monitor illegal logging in the rainforest.

However, the dishes apparently ended up in the hands of the gangs, who used them to process payments without going to the city and coordinate their logistics. They also ironically used it to evade law enforcement raids.

Agents have so far seized seven terminals. They are looking for ways to block the service in areas where illegal mining is suspected.

Meanwhile, most Starlink users are legitimate, including Anglo-Eastern installing the Maritime version on more than 200 ships. Canadian buyers can snag the hardware at up to 50% off the regular price as long as stocks last.

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