A plan of sick minds
The staff were raided and all access to the roads were closed to prevent movement. It was forbidden to use mobile phones and all employees were concentrated in one place, to allow the identification of each one and carry out interrogations.
What was the purpose? "Discovering a secret basement supposed to hold tests with chimpanzees in the search for a cure for AIDS."
It all started more than two years ago, when IBAMA seized all animals - including hippos, elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees and many others – of Cirque Le Cirque, in Brasilia. Chimpanzees have come to Sorocaba Sanctuary terribly mistreated, toothless, neutered, and have lived chained in a cage oxidized in a cart for years.
Le Cirque escaped from Brasilia and a national capture ordered was made. The circus ended uo being arrested in Mato Grosso, when it seemed it was trying to cross the border of the country. IBAMA and Brasilia zoo, which were conducting the confiscation of the animals, requested our help in the logistics of transportation for hundreds of miles until they reach Brasília.
Brazilian Union of Traveling Circuses - UBCI, in Portuguese, which is supported with federal funds from the Ministry of Culture, filed a lawsuit at the time against dozens of organizations, individuals and IBAMA, accusing them of colluding to rob the circus animals and sell them to several conservation institutions and zoos.
Among all the accused institutions, we were the only one really investigated by GAECO (Group for the Repression of Organized Crime) of the Public Ministry of Sorocaba.
How this action ended in GAECO and generated a super search and seizure operation at the Sanctuary? Several theories exist. One of the most plausible indicates that a political maneuver forced GAECO to take the case, which actually was not within its authority. Weeks before the action, a traditional newspaper of Sorocaba – Cruzeiro do Sul - linked to political right forces, published on the first page in its Sunday edition the denunciation of the circuses, stating that GAECO would be triggered to carry out the investigation. Neither GAECO knew it. The newspaper was adding events to put GAECO against the wall so it would not decline the transaction, which clearly was not among its goals.
A few days before the second round of Presidential Elections of 2010 in Brazil, the operation was performed. In the first round, 20% of the electorate had voted for the green cause and environmental protection. Those 20% of the votes of Marina Silva stoop balance for either candidate. The operation of GAECO was aimed to discover the complicit between IBAMA officials, NGOs and individuals. A press conference had been convened for five hours on the afternoon of that day, to show the evidence that supposedly would be discovered. The big TV news that night would gather, without a doubt, the scandal and candidate of the Federal Government would lose a part of those 20% of votes desired.
GAECO realized, after two hours scouring the Sanctuary and interrogating all employees, it had been kept in a trap. There was no secret basement, or medical experiments were made, nor mistreated animals. Rather, they realized it was a place of excellence in the care of the animals that live there.
The press conference played a "bucket of cold water in the project masterminded by some sick minds," as prosecutors acknowledged that nothing irregular was found, however.
Several weeks later, after a careful analysis by experts of all documents seized, as well as the memories of computers, it was made a statement that closed the case.
On May 2, 2012, we received the Office 0238/2012, from the District Attorney's Civil of Sorocaba, informing us of the filing of this process.
We transcribe two paragraphs of this Office, which speaks for itself, and tells who are the real culprits of abuse and exploitation of animals in the country: the traveling circuses that keep animals in their squad.
"As stated in the promotion of filing, after thorough due diligence inspection and search and seizure on the spot, which involved 40 people between Prosecutors, Public Ministry officials and experts in the field and subsequent analysis of the seized documents and other steps taken by GAECO, it were not confirmed suspicions of abuse raised by representatives of the circuses.
Rather, it was found that it is a serious institution, respected worldwide, duly authorized and supervised by IBAMA, and at the place the animals are well treated and they recover from ill-treatment in circuses and unscrupulous breeders, these ones the real exploiters and responsible for the mistreatment of animals.
4th District Attorney Sorocaba "
In the end we congratulate the members of the public prosecutor's office in Sorocaba and especially GAECO, as they have finally unmask the real criminals who abuse and mistreat innocent beings, disguised as institutions that transmit popular culture.