There is widespread outrage in Brazil after a 29-year-old influencer allegedly burnt 250 football pitches of forest while setting off fireworks to promote his whisky business.
It reportedly took 100 firefighters and other emergency crews two days to put out the blaze.
The massive fire was started near Belo Horizonte, the capital of south-eastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state in September, with state police now arresting influencer and businessman Lucas da Silva Simplicio, 29, who is also known as the ‘Little Piggy of Belo Horizonte’ (“Porquinho de BH”).
The Little Piggy, who reportedly has priors including, attempted murder and drug trafficking, among other crimes, was reportedly busted in possession of unspecified drugs at his place of business, cops said.
Simplicio reportedly claimed that the fire was all “an accident”.
But police said they have security camera footage showing the suspect setting off the fireworks that started the blaze.
The first piece of footage shows the suspect’s car arriving on the scene, where fireworks can be seen being let off, according to the police.
The other piece of footage shows the police carrying out the raid on Simplicio’s home.
The influencer, who also reportedly owns beverage distribution businesses and sold mobile phones, was busted by cops on Tuesday, 18th October for destroying 251 hectares of forest – the equivalent of about 250 football pitches.
The influencer, who has over 120,000 followers on just one social media platform, had a habit of setting off fireworks around the city to promote his business and he was taken into custody after the authorities executed three search warrants, on his home, on his car and at his business.
They reportedly seized a computer and other electronic equipment – along with the drugs.
Eduardo Vieira, from the Specialised Police Investigation Unit into Crimes Against the Environment (DEMA), is quoted in local media as saying: “As soon as the fact happened, the State Forestry Institute (IEF) informed the Civil Police.
“Over the course of the investigation, it managed to collect a firework item. It also obtained access to the security cameras, allowing the identification of the car used by the suspect.”
Vieira added: “The suspect started to set off fireworks, and one of these fireworks ended up heading to the woods. Once the suspect and the car were identified, the DEMA targeted him with three search warrants for his car, house and company.”
Simplicio faces between two and four years behind bars and a fine if he is convicted of having started the forest fire.