An appellate judge released 131,100 cubic meters of timber which had been seized in December 2020, during what was the Federal Police’s largest anti-deforestation operation in history. Per Judge Ney Bello, the shipment should now be returned to MDP Transport, a company represented by Frederick Wassef, a lawyer with deep ties to the Bolsonaro family.
The firm will now be able to sell the timber, which the Feds say was illegally obtained.
Besides representing President Jair Bolsonaro and his eldest son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, Mr. Wassef has turned himself into a government counselor for legal matters, having the president’s ear on appointments of judges. He will have a say on who will be Mr. Bolsonaro next nomination for the Superior Court of Justice, Brazil’s second-highest judicial body. Indeed, Mr. Bello hopes his name will be in contention, and has been actively lobbying to that end.
The record-breaking search and seizure operation pushed former Environment Minister Ricardo Salles out of office. He resigned in mid-2021 after being accused by law enforcement of colluding with logging firms to help an illegal timber exporting ring.