HomeNewsBriefInterpol Launches First-Ever Wood Trafficking Op in LatAm
BRIEF

Interpol Launches First-Ever Wood Trafficking Op in LatAm

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 19 FEB 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Interpol arrested nearly 200 people and seized millions of dollars' worth of timber as its first international operation against large-scale illegal logging targeted Latin America's large illicit timber market.

Running from September to November 2012, "Operation Lead" brought together law enforcement agencies from 12 Latin American countries affected by illegal logging, from Costa Rica to Paraguay.

Officials carried out inspections and investigations targeting freight vehicles, retailers, and individuals and set up surveillance and monitoring at ports and transport hubs, according to Interpol. In total, officials seized over 50,000 m3 of wood -- equivalent to 2,000 truckloads -- worth approximately $8 million and arrested 194 people. Investigations into 118 more people are still ongoing.

According to the head of Interpol's Environmental Crime Program, David Higgins, the operation will form the base for future efforts to tackle the global trade, which has an estimated annual worth of $30 billion to $100 billion.

InSight Crime Analysis

Latin America's vast forests and jungles spread over isolated territories far from the reach of law enforcement agencies makes many countries ideal for illegal logging. The trade is particularly widespread in Brazil, where several anti-logging campaigners have been murdered. In  Colombia and Peru, the trade is believed to overlap with organized crime and drug trafficking, although to what extent remains unclear.

The illicit wood trafficking trade has also grown exponentially in Nicaragua, which has seen the formation of a "wood mafia" to feed Chinese demand for timber. However, the Central American country was not included in the Interpol operation.

As Interpol points out, because of the transnational nature of the trade, any attempts to crack down on wood trafficking require not only the involvement of international agencies such as Interpol, but also improved communication and cooperation between different national law enforcement agencies in the affected areas.

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 / 26 AUG 2021

Despite its small size, Paraguay continues to shock Latin America with its extremely high levels of deforestation, outnumbering most of…

COLOMBIA / 3 MAR 2021

Illegal loggers and land grabbers in Colombia have begun clearing small, isolated patches of forest to avoid being spotted from…

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

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…