HomeNewsBriefInterpol Targets Venezuela in Anti-Timber Trafficking Ops
BRIEF

Interpol Targets Venezuela in Anti-Timber Trafficking Ops

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 26 JUL 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Interpol has seized nearly $40 million in illegally trafficked timber, the majority from Venezuela, suggesting the country is an increasingly important market for a criminal activitiy more commonly associated with Central America and countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.

In a follow-up to a special investigation, "Operation Lead," which Interpol initiated last year, Costa Rican, and Venezuelan authorities seized a total of 292,000 m3 of wood -- 19,500 truckloads. Venezuelan seizures represented about two-thirds of the total amount, with officials confiscating 188,000 m3 in just one month. The timber was confiscated along transportation routes, at sawmills, and at logging sites, said Interpol.

Interpol also noted that in addition to combating the trade through seizures, Venezuelan authorities have reforested around 8,000 hectares affected by illegal logging and have begun running educational programs about the illegal trade.

The initial phase of Operation Lead, Interpol's first Latin American timber trafficking operation, was conducted from September to November 2012 with efforts from law enforcement agencies in 12 countries in Latin America. During the first phase, officials seized around 2,000 truckloads of wood and arrested nearly 200 people.

InSight Crime Analysis

Venezuela's role in this latest round of timber seizures is notable, particularly considering that the amount seized in one month represented over three times the total quantity of wood seized internationally during the first phase of the operation (188,000 m3 compared to 50,000 m3).

The illegal timber industry worldwide is estimated to be worth up to $100 billion, with illegal logging accounting for 50 to 90 percent of forestry activity in certain tropical countries and 15-30 percent of the global trade, according to Interpol.

Latin America's Amazon forest region is one key source of timber for the trade, and illegal forestry is a major industry in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. In both Peru and Colombia, the timber trade is thought to have ties to organized crime, including the Shining Path in Peru and BACRIM groups in Colombia.

Although Venezuela's role in the trade has been less talked about, the country possesses characteristics noted by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) as contributors to the trade, including high levels of government corruption, poverty, and economic instability. The country also has large areas of sparsely populated jungle, and a number of Colombian criminal organizations -- including the BACRIM -- are present in the country.

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

VENEZUELA / 8 AUG 2012

The Venezuelan border state of Apure is one of the busiest transit areas for cocaine heading to the Caribbean, with…

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 FEB 2017

An open letter from US senators to President Donald Trump implies that alleged criminal activities by the vice president of Venezuela…

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 3 DEC 2014

Venezuela is yet again perceived as the most corrupt country in Latin America, according to a new report by Transparency…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Memo Fantasma Coverage Gets Worldwide Attention

1 JUL 2022

Guillermo Acevedo, the former Colombian drug lord and paramilitary commander better known as Memo Fantasma, may soon be allowed to leave prison. Since first revealing the identity of Memo Fantasma…

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…