Just a few months since Peru enacted its new forestry and wildlife law, a sting operation organized by Peru’s High Commission Against Illegal Logging resulted in the arrests of 19 people suspected in the laundering of illegal timber from the Ucayali region for export the United States and Mexico. On the ground operations were conducted by special environmental police officers based in the city of Pucallpa.
The suspects are part of a logging gang referred to as the Los Patrones de Ucayali, or The Chiefs of Ucayali, that are known to buy timber from Ucayali’s protected areas and indigenous lands and then launder the wood with permits intended for other areas. The gang has been under investigation since last July. The arrested includes four engineers from Ucayali’s forestry agency (DGFFS), the state agency that supervises all forestry activities, three police officers and 12 timber industry workers. The forestry engineers are suspected of approving false “Guias de Transporte”, or transportation permits, needed to move shipments of illegal timber, while the police provided security during transport. The timber workers obtained the illegal permits and secured financing for operations.
Prosecutors are requesting they be held for 18 months while the investigation is conducted. If guilty, they could receive up to 10 years in jail for illegal trafficking of wild flora.
Meanwhile north of Pucallpa, environmental police arrested two loggers working inside the newly created Sierra Del Divisor National Park along the Utuqunía River. Several tractors were found and destroyed. Future operations are planned for the Tamaya River, where illegal logging has flourished for the past decade, despite rumors of armed loggers ready to resist the police investigators.