SAO PAULO — Police say they have arrested 140 people suspected of being part of an illegal logging and charcoal-making ring in four Brazilian states.

The public safety department of the state of Espirito Santo says in a statement that the suspects allegedly were part of a “charcoal mafia” that also operated in the states of Sao Paulo, Bahia and Minas Gerais.

The statement says the group illegally felled trees to make charcoal used by steel industries and that the charcoal makers evaded taxes, and violated work safety and environmental regulations.

It says that close to 1 billion reals ($555 million) in taxes went unpaid over the past five years.

Source: Associated Press