Environmental police in Brazil have enlisted the help of unmanned drone planes to help tackle the illegal exploitation of the country's resources, reported Latin Trade magazine.

The São Paulo Environmental Police has purchased a number of the unmanned aerial vehicles which they will use to monitor environmental crimes in rural locations, according to the report. Fifteen officers from the force have received special training in operating the drones, which will assist police investigations into crimes such as deforestation and illegal fishing.

A number of Latin American governments, including Brazil, have purchased Israeli-made drones for use in border patrol operations and in fighting drug trafficking. Brazilian firm AGX Tecnologia has now developed sophisticated drone planes using Brazilian technology, with the intention of selling to the country's environmental police forces, as Latin Trade reports.

Bianca Kancelkis, AGX Tecnologia’s director for environmental projects, explained to the magazine that piloted planes are more expensive and require a take-off and landing strip, which can be hard to come by in the remote locations where environmental crimes generally take place.

Environmental crime is a growing problem in Brazil. According to a recent report in Brazilian newspaper O Globo, as much as half of the territory reserved for indigenous communities along River Guama in the state of Para, in northern Brazil, has been seized by drug traffickers, loggers, and farmers. At least six killings linked to land conflict have been recorded in Para state in recent months, with conflict between illegal loggers, the local people and environmental activists.