Perú’s security forces fight illegal logging

Perú’s security forces fight illegal logging

By Dialogo
November 11, 2014




Perú is taking bold steps to end to illegal logging, a practice that has led to deadly violence and is destroying the environment in the Amazon region, and costs the governments tens of millions of dollars a year in lost tax revenue and fees.

A recent quadruple homicide prompted the government to step up its efforts against the practice. On September 1, four indigenous Asháninka people were shot in a remote Amazon region near the border with Brazil. Peruvian police suspect the victims were killed by one or more illegal loggers.

In the wake of the killings, the federal government appointed National Police (PNP) Gen. Cesar Fourment to be the high commissioner against illegal logging. He leads an office in the city of Pucallpa, the capital of Ucayali, coordinating law enforcement and preventive actions, especially on the border area with Brazil, which is 2,822 km in length.

The PNP investigates a quadruple homicide


The four murdered Pervuians - Edwin Chota, Leoncio Quinticima, Jorge Ríos, and Francisco Pinedo – were ambushed as they walked from Saweto, the village Chota led, to a Brazilian Asháninkacommunity. When they failed to arrive at their destination in Brazil, friends who had walked ahead doubled back and found their bodies. The victims had apparently been killed by shotgun blasts, police authorities said.

Chota, 52, the leader of the Alto Tamaya-Saweto indigenous community, was a fierce defender of his territory and an opponent of indiscriminate logging. He had reported multiple death threats from illegal loggers who didn’t like him speaking out against their activities.

The PNP deployed ten officers from the Criminal Investigation Department to Saweto to investigate the killings. Another 30 officers have set up two camps to provide security for the population, which comprises 30 native families, according to the Peruvian daily La República.


Meanwhile, the Public Prosecutor is investigating the case together with the PNP. Police have detained one suspect, Adeuzo Mapes, and are searching for his son, Eurico Mapes, who’s also suspected in the killings. Indigenous residents have accused both of engaging in illegal logging.

“The indigenous have become the main victims of the criminal chain of illegal logging,” said Julio Pareja, a forestry engineer and consultant to the Native Federation of the Río Madre de Dios River and Tributaries (FENAMAD).

Indigenous people threatened by illegal logging


Illegal logging threatens the health of the forests, which indigenous people like the Asháninka depend on to support themselves. There, they grow crops like yucca roots, sweet potato, corn, rice, coffee, bananas, cacao, and sugar; they also hunt and fish in the forest, primarily with bows and arrows.

“They have an entire mechanism for taking care of their lands that illegal loggers don’t respect,” Pareja said.

Illegal loggers operate in a large part of the Peruvian Amazon, which encompasses an area of 7.8 million km2 -- more than 60 percent of the country. Since 2000, they’ve deforested more than 1 million hectares of forest in the Department of San Martín, for example. While there are no official figures on the total number of hectares deforested due to illegal logging in the Peruvian Amazon, the cultivation of coca leaf and illegal mining are other causes of the disappearance of tropical forests in the region.

Illegal logging is costly to the government


Illegal logging doesn’t just take a heavy toll on indigenous people -- it costs the Peruvian government as well.

And Between January 2008 and May 2010, more than a third of all shipments of cedar and mahogany from Peru to the U.S. were from illegal loggers, according a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Much of that timber likely skipped the taxes and fees the government usually earns from logging, and the yearly totals can be extraordinary.In 2002, for example, Perú lost $70 million to the practice. That figure includes losses in tax revenue, fees, and the degraded value of timber lands, but doesn’t even take into account the damage to the Amazon region’s ecosystems, such as a decline in biodiversity and freshwater protection.

Meanwhile, the country’s legal wood exports generated about $150 million (USD) for the government in 2013.

Efforts to counter illegal logging are winning back for Perú some of its lost revenue. For instance, between March and May, 15,000 m3 of illegally-sourced wood valued $20.6 million (USD) were seized by “Operation Amazonas”. Those efforts were directed by INTERPOL Perú together with the National Tax and Customs Administration Superintendency (SUNAT) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Peru has 73 million hectares of forests, of which 70 million are Amazonian forests, according to the Ministry of Environment. Illegal logging is concentrated in high-value commercial tree species such as mahogany, cedar, and cumala, according to OSINFOR.

Many concessionaires submit false information about trees that do not exist, just to obtain authorizations and permits to extract large volumes of wood from areas outside of their concessions, including protected areas and indigenous lands, according to a 2012 investigation by María Julia Urrunaga, director of Peruvian Programs of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Perú’s Armed Forces provide support for the border inspection and control performed by OSINFOR, the National Forest and Wildlife Authority, the Regional Forest and Wildlife Authority, and Forest Management Associations. The military also provides security at inspection posts where Peruvian wood is checked before it is exported.



Perú is taking bold steps to end to illegal logging, a practice that has led to deadly violence and is destroying the environment in the Amazon region, and costs the governments tens of millions of dollars a year in lost tax revenue and fees.

A recent quadruple homicide prompted the government to step up its efforts against the practice. On September 1, four indigenous Asháninka people were shot in a remote Amazon region near the border with Brazil. Peruvian police suspect the victims were killed by one or more illegal loggers.

In the wake of the killings, the federal government appointed National Police (PNP) Gen. Cesar Fourment to be the high commissioner against illegal logging. He leads an office in the city of Pucallpa, the capital of Ucayali, coordinating law enforcement and preventive actions, especially on the border area with Brazil, which is 2,822 km in length.

The PNP investigates a quadruple homicide


The four murdered Pervuians - Edwin Chota, Leoncio Quinticima, Jorge Ríos, and Francisco Pinedo – were ambushed as they walked from Saweto, the village Chota led, to a Brazilian Asháninkacommunity. When they failed to arrive at their destination in Brazil, friends who had walked ahead doubled back and found their bodies. The victims had apparently been killed by shotgun blasts, police authorities said.

Chota, 52, the leader of the Alto Tamaya-Saweto indigenous community, was a fierce defender of his territory and an opponent of indiscriminate logging. He had reported multiple death threats from illegal loggers who didn’t like him speaking out against their activities.

The PNP deployed ten officers from the Criminal Investigation Department to Saweto to investigate the killings. Another 30 officers have set up two camps to provide security for the population, which comprises 30 native families, according to the Peruvian daily La República.


Meanwhile, the Public Prosecutor is investigating the case together with the PNP. Police have detained one suspect, Adeuzo Mapes, and are searching for his son, Eurico Mapes, who’s also suspected in the killings. Indigenous residents have accused both of engaging in illegal logging.

“The indigenous have become the main victims of the criminal chain of illegal logging,” said Julio Pareja, a forestry engineer and consultant to the Native Federation of the Río Madre de Dios River and Tributaries (FENAMAD).

Indigenous people threatened by illegal logging


Illegal logging threatens the health of the forests, which indigenous people like the Asháninka depend on to support themselves. There, they grow crops like yucca roots, sweet potato, corn, rice, coffee, bananas, cacao, and sugar; they also hunt and fish in the forest, primarily with bows and arrows.

“They have an entire mechanism for taking care of their lands that illegal loggers don’t respect,” Pareja said.

Illegal loggers operate in a large part of the Peruvian Amazon, which encompasses an area of 7.8 million km2 -- more than 60 percent of the country. Since 2000, they’ve deforested more than 1 million hectares of forest in the Department of San Martín, for example. While there are no official figures on the total number of hectares deforested due to illegal logging in the Peruvian Amazon, the cultivation of coca leaf and illegal mining are other causes of the disappearance of tropical forests in the region.

Illegal logging is costly to the government


Illegal logging doesn’t just take a heavy toll on indigenous people -- it costs the Peruvian government as well.

And Between January 2008 and May 2010, more than a third of all shipments of cedar and mahogany from Peru to the U.S. were from illegal loggers, according a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Much of that timber likely skipped the taxes and fees the government usually earns from logging, and the yearly totals can be extraordinary.In 2002, for example, Perú lost $70 million to the practice. That figure includes losses in tax revenue, fees, and the degraded value of timber lands, but doesn’t even take into account the damage to the Amazon region’s ecosystems, such as a decline in biodiversity and freshwater protection.

Meanwhile, the country’s legal wood exports generated about $150 million (USD) for the government in 2013.

Efforts to counter illegal logging are winning back for Perú some of its lost revenue. For instance, between March and May, 15,000 m3 of illegally-sourced wood valued $20.6 million (USD) were seized by “Operation Amazonas”. Those efforts were directed by INTERPOL Perú together with the National Tax and Customs Administration Superintendency (SUNAT) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Peru has 73 million hectares of forests, of which 70 million are Amazonian forests, according to the Ministry of Environment. Illegal logging is concentrated in high-value commercial tree species such as mahogany, cedar, and cumala, according to OSINFOR.

Many concessionaires submit false information about trees that do not exist, just to obtain authorizations and permits to extract large volumes of wood from areas outside of their concessions, including protected areas and indigenous lands, according to a 2012 investigation by María Julia Urrunaga, director of Peruvian Programs of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Perú’s Armed Forces provide support for the border inspection and control performed by OSINFOR, the National Forest and Wildlife Authority, the Regional Forest and Wildlife Authority, and Forest Management Associations. The military also provides security at inspection posts where Peruvian wood is checked before it is exported.
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