Authorities bust multi-million dollar Amazon logging ring
July 2, 2007
Brazilian authorities have busted a logging ring that used fake permits to cut 500,000 trees in the Amazon rainforest, reports Reuters.
155 illegal loggers were involved in the ring, which used computer hackers and insiders, to forge permits for transporting illegally felled timber. State news agency Agencia Brasil reports that the scheme generated 16 million reais ($9.4 million) from just one operation.
The bust comes as environmental police have stepped up enforcement efforts in the Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest. Last September authorities announced the largest seizure ever of illegally logged timber from the Amazon. The raid took place in Para, the state where Sister Dorothy Stang, an American nun who worked with rural poor, was killed by gunman associated with local plantation owners in 2005.
Since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates of primary forest cover in Brazil have climbed by 35 percent as the Amazon has lost about than 150,000 square kilometers of rainforest. While these figures are dire, deforestation rates in the region have fallen by nearly half since peaking in 2004. Falling commodity prices and increased enforcement efforts are credited for the drop.