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

BRAZIL / 31 DEC 2021

Prediction of the criminal dynamics for 2022 is even harder than most years, as it involves predicting the march of…

KIDNAPPING / 13 MAR 2011

El Nacional did a special over the weekend on kidnapping, charting how this crime has increased in Venezuela…

BOLIVIA / 23 APR 2021

The arrest of an acting government minister in Bolivia has reinforced how land trafficking in the nation is fueled by…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…