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Peruvian Gangs Traffic Timber from Brazil

Peruvian groups carry out illegal logging in Brazil before transporting the wood along tributaries of the Amazon into Peru, unhindered by law enforcement, reports O Globo.

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The smugglers are able to carry out their trade with impunity because four Brazilian revenue service (RF) patrol boats meant to stop contraband on the Solimoes river have been out of service for at least two years.

According to the newspaper, investigations by the Federal Police found that the wood, mostly cedar and mahogany, is taken to the Peruvian island of Islandia for processing. It is mixed with legal shipments of Peruvian timber before being exported to Mexico and the US.

Police told the newspaper that the operation of drones could help halt the timber trafficking, but that the only available aircraft are currently being used on the Paraguayan border, and there is no provision for deploying them on the border with Peru.

The ships used to export the timber from Peru have also been used for cocaine trafficking, according to the police.

See O Globo's video report on timber trafficking here.

InSight Crime Analysis

Islandia, where the wood is processed, is located on the tri-border area between Peru, Brazil and Colombia, which is a center for the smuggling of various different types of contraband, including guns and drugs.

Brazil is currently carrying out a security surge on its borders, deploying some 6,500 extra troops in November. However, the fact that there are no drones operating in the northern tri-border region, and that the patrol boats meant to combat smuggling are not being used, shows the huge challenges facing the government in trying to get control over its vast frontiers.

The trafficking of illegally felled timber is a major threat in the Amazon region, with reports that between 2000 and 2004 some 80 percent of wood sold in Bolivia, 70 percent in Ecuador, and 42 in Colombia was illegal.

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