Monday, 5 May 2008

Police recover more logs in Riau; foil smuggling in S. Sulawesi

Note below the Malaysian connection........very, very common - along with Chinese criminals.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Police recover more logs in Riau; foil smuggling in S. Sulawesi

Rizal Harahap and Andi Hajramurni , The Jakarta Post , Pekanbaru, Makassar Sat,

Riau Police have recovered more than 3,500 logs believed to have been looted from protected forest in Kampar regency, while foiling an international high-value wood smuggling syndicate in South Sulawesi.

Kampar Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Muttaqien said Friday that the logs were recovered on Wednesday and Thursday in Kampar, Riau, after soldiers and officials were deployed to break a villagers' blockade intended to prevent their removal.

Some 100 security personnel from the local Army unit were deployed to break the blockade. Villagers wanted to prevent police from taking the logs from Mentulik village in Kampar Kiri Hilir subdistrict to Bangkinang.

The residents, mostly women and children, held a sit-in on a bridge leading to the village to prevent dozens of trucks from entering the village, saying the trucks would damage the road, an argument used by local traders to raise basic commodity prices. Police believe residents were paid by illicit owners to try to keep the logs in the village.

"We are surprised at the villagers' tactics but our tactics are better because we have assured them any damage to the road will be repaired by the Kampar administration," said Muttaqien.
He explained the logs were recovered thanks to local informants who remained anonymous. So far nobody has been arrested in the case.

Last week, the police also recovered more than 7,900 illegal logs from commercial forest belonging to timber company CV Alam Raya. The police are still investigating the case.

Meanwhile, South Sulawesi chief of detectives Sr. Comr. Sobri Effendy said in Makassar that police have detained 10 people suspected of involvement in smuggling valuable ebony wood from the province, while seven suspects are still at large.

"The 10 will be processed and charged with looting under the 1999 forestry law which carries a maximum five-year jail sentence and Rp 200 million (US$21,200) fine," he said, adding the police also seized 157 ebony logs when the suspects were arrested in a police operation in Mamuju on Thursday.

He said he was coordinating with Malaysian police to pursue Malaysian citizen Basri suspected of being the syndicate boss.

"Basri has purchased ebony wood looted from forest areas in South, West and Central Sulawesi to sell for far higher prices in South Korea and China," he said.

According to police preliminary investigations, the syndicate recruited members in Soppeng regency to form small gangs specializing in looting, collecting and transportation. Most wood looted from forests in Mamuju and Central Sulawesi is smuggled through Tawau.

Ebony costs up to Rp 100 million per cubic meter on the domestic market and Rp 150 million per cubic meter in Malaysia, China and South Korea. It is used to make luxury furniture and is also found in Papua.