HomeNewsBriefDemand From China Fueling Nicaragua's Wood Trafficking Trade
BRIEF

Demand From China Fueling Nicaragua's Wood Trafficking Trade

CHINA AND CRIME / 11 DEC 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Demand from Chinese buyers has contributed to the growth of an illicit trafficking network that is moving record amounts of granadillo wood out of Nicaragua, according to a new report by investigative website Confidencial.

The Confidencial report finds that exports of granadillo have grown exponentially in Nicaragua since 2008. The wood is traditionally used to make musical instruments like marimbas, but is also in demand by furniture producers and makers of luxury items like Rolls Royces and yachts.

(Watch a video of the Confidencial report below).

In 2008 just over $127,000 of granadillo were exported from Nicaragua to six countries. In 2011, that number grew to $6 million worth of exports. The explosion in demand was driven by an influx of Chinese buyers, the Confidencial report states. Chinese buyers began to use Nicaragua as a primary source of granadillo after facing stricter controls on wood exports in other Central American countries like Panama, Nicaragua's second-largest wood exporter told Confidencial.

The inceased demand has fed the growth of a "wood mafia" that illegally harvests granadillo from forest reserves and moves it out of Nicaragua. In one sign of the burgeoning trade, in January 2012 the military seized a $1.35 million shipment of granadillo in a single operation.

InSight Crime Analysis

As the Confidencial report highlights, wildlife trafficking can be a very lucrative business, depending on the product. Granadillo sells for $11 per board-foot (a unit of measurement for lumber). And with over 570,000 board-feet seized in Nicaragua seized so far in 2011, this represents some $6.2 million in profits.

Nicaragua's wood trafficking "mafia" works similiarly to the drug trade, in the sense that both businesses are dependent on a network of transporters to move the product, and a network of complicit officials who turn a blind eye. Confidencial notes that while some truck drivers who move illicit granadillo shipments have been arrested, this hasn't brought authorities any closer to building a case against the real "kingpins" behind the trade.

The illegal timber industry is a significant problem elsewhere in the region, including Colombia and Peru. Peru's illegal timber exports are thought to bring in up to $72 million in profits per year.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links 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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 1 JUN 2012

Honduran authorities burnt over 100 shark fins seized from illegal fishermen in a public ceremony demonstrating their commitment to wiping…

ELITES AND CRIME / 13 FEB 2017

A new report by the watchdog group Global Witness suggests that state institutions co-opted by business and political elites helped…

COLOMBIA / 8 NOV 2019

In January 2019, heavily armed gunmen traveling in a truck and on a motorbike ambushed a small group of anti-narcotics…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…