• Connect with us on Linkedin

Seizures Point to Timber Trafficking Ring in Guatemala

Recent seizures of illegally trafficked timber in Guatemala suggests there is an organized smuggling ring sophisticated enough to transport the wood in large quantities, Prensa Libre reports.

Linkedin
Google +

According to the newspaper, Guatemalan authorities seized three shipping containers between November and December last year, each containing 58.28 cubic meters of Dalbergia species, commonly referred to as "rosul" wood. The shipments were set to depart from one of Guatemala's most important ports, Santo Tomas de Castilla. A further 3.5 cubic meters of the illegally logged wood was seized in national parks across the country.

The tree species, protected under the terms of an international environmetal trafficking treaty, is highly demanded in China, which fuels the smuggling trade.

The investigation into these recent seizures suggests that members of the police and government environmental agencies are involved in the trafficking ring, according to the Prensa Libre report.

InSight Crime Analysis

Illegal logging can take two forms: local people using the wood for subsistence, or organized groups running large smuggling operations. The size of these recent seizures in Guatemala point to the latter. The alleged involvement of police or government officials also suggests a more sophisticated operation. The trafficking of protected species often relies on the same smuggling routes used to transport drugs. And similarly to the drug trade, in order to move large cargoes of product, police and environmental officials need to be bribed to look the other way. 

Last year Guatemala announced a crackdown on eco-trafficking, stating they would enforce stricter security measures at airports. But the initiative left the country's sea ports off the list of priorities, arguably a serious omission. 

Eco-trafficking is a lucrative trade across the Americas. Last year Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that his government would wage a "crusade" against timber trafficking due to its links to organized crime. Similarly, Nicaragua recently created the world's first "eco-battalion," a military unit that will focus solely on protecting the country's natural resources.

Linkedin
Google +

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

Most Read

El Salvador Tax Probe Tightens Noose Around Texis Cartel Leader

El Salvador Tax Probe Tightens Noose Around Texis Cartel Leader

As part of a tax evasion investigation, El Salvador prosecutors have seized documents and searched properties belonging to Texis Cartel leader "El Chepe Diablo" and two key business partners, in a sign that the elusive...

Read more

The Narco of Narcos: Fugitive Mexican Drug Lord Rafael Caro Quintero

The Narco of Narcos: Fugitive Mexican Drug Lord Rafael Caro Quintero

The release of Rafael Caro Quintero from a Mexican prison in August 2013 was a blow to US-Mexico relations, the reputation of the Mexican justice system, and the drug war.

Read more

Mexico Cartel Had Stake in 7 Tn Colombia Cocaine Load

Mexico Cartel Had Stake in 7 Tn Colombia Cocaine Load

More details have emerged on the transport and seizure of a record seven tons of cocaine at the Colombian port of Cartagena, revealing that the shipment, bound for Europe, also involved Mexican cartels.

Read more