(PresidentialHill.com)- The Associated Press reported this week that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites providing high-speed internet have been a valuable tool for illegal miners in Brazil, allowing them to coordinate logistics, make payments without traveling to the city, and receive advanced warning of raids by law enforcement.
On Tuesday, helicopters carrying agents from Brazil’s environmental agency special inspection group as well as the rapid response group from the federal highway police descended on an illegal mining operation in the Amazon rainforest where they were met with gunfire. Set up beside the mining pit was a Starlink internet terminal.
The agents seized gold, mercury, and ammunition at the illegal mine purportedly operated by First Command of the Capital, Brazil’s most feared criminal organization.
Since taking office earlier this year, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been cracking down on environmental violations, especially illegal mining operations in the Indigenous territory of Yanomani where an estimated 20,000 prospectors have contaminated vital waterways in recent years using mercury to separate gold, the Associated Press reported.
While illegal miners have used satellite internet for communications for a while, until now, that required having a technician fly to the location to install a fixed antenna that can’t be carried away when the mining sites are moved or raided by law enforcement. These heavy, fixed antenna satellite internet connections tended to be slow and unstable, most notably on rainy days.
But after Starlink became available in Brazil last year, those problems became a thing of the past. Starlink’s equipment does not require a technician to install it and it works even on the move and in the rain. What’s more, Starlink’s internet speeds are just as fast in the rainforest as they are in Brazil’s large cities.
According to the Associated Press, while SpaceX’s agreement with the Brazilian government has stalled since President Jair Bolsonaro left office, among the criminals in the Amazon, the use of Starlink satellite internet connections is booming.