HomeNewsBriefMassive Mexico Illegal Wood Seizure Sign of Criminal Diversity
BRIEF

Massive Mexico Illegal Wood Seizure Sign of Criminal Diversity

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 14 APR 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Authorities in Mexico have seized a record 10,000 ton haul of illegal timber worth more than $1 million, another indication of the wide range of illicit activities undertaken by criminal organizations to increase revenue streams.

The seizure was made after raids in five of the 21 municipalities where foresting takes place in the western state of Michoacan (see Excelsior image below), and resulted in a record seizure of more than $1.1 million worth of wood, reported Excelsior. Commissioner for Security and Development Alfredo Castillo on tweeted that the timber equated to about 9,000 trees (see below).

Mexico’s Federal Attorney's Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) and other security forces also confiscated 13 sawmills, two wood shredders, 11 vehicles, and other machinery and equipment. The seized wood was mostly pine and Mexican fir.

Though the seizure has not officially been attributed to any particular criminal group, some media reports suggested it was the work of the Knights Templar.

michoacanforests

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico has the 12th largest forested area in the world, and 3rd in Latin America, according to the 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment (pdf) from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). In January 2014, Nuestravision Noticias reported that over 60,000 hectares of woodland are lost to illegal logging per year.

In a case underscoring the involvement of organized crime in timber theft, Excelsior highlighted a 2011 uprising by a community in Michoacan that saw protesters complain of official complicity in the theft of 50 percent of trees around the town of Cheran by organized criminal groups.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Eco Trafficking

If organized crime is to blame for this most recent seizure, it would be yet another example of the diverse interests such groups have established in the hunt for criminal income. In March 2014, it was reported that Mexican pirates had stolen over $800,000 of shrimp from fishermen in the state of Sinaloa during the 2013-2014 shrimping season. Michoacan has also recently been identified as one of the five Mexican states in which mining is reportedly under the control of criminal organizations, and the Knights Templar cartel is also known to have a major stake in the iron and steel industry -- which lost over $1.3 billion to theft and illegal mining in 2013.

share icon icon icon

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

MEXICO / 16 SEP 2011

Mexico's crackdown on methaphetamine is pushing the industry into other Central and South American countries, according to a new report…

COLOMBIA / 27 APR 2011

A series of three news reports, written by Jose Luis Sierra and published by New American Media, look…

MEXICO / 4 JUN 2014

As Mexico works to implement its landmark oil reform, organized crime groups are mounting a nettlesome challenge, raising questions about…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events - Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…