TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Law enforcement in Hsinchu County arrested 11 people on Tuesday (April 28) for illegal logging and timber trafficking, confiscating approximately 50 tons of valuable wood from endangered trees.
A total of 10 busts occurred across six cities and counties on Tuesday, including at the residence of the main suspect, in national forests, and in a garage where stolen wood was kept. The trees the wood came from included Chamaecyparis formosensis, more commonly known as the Formosan cypress, Chamaecyparis taiwanensis, and Calocedrus formosana, all of which are endemic to Taiwan and have been classified as endangered or vulnerable species.
Roughly 50 tons of timber were confiscated, along with cell phones, account books, and other objects used by the group. It is estimated that the value of the stolen wood surpasses tens of millions of NT dollars.
Some of the wood has been turned into pieces of craftwork and other products, proof of organized operations spanning logging, wood processing, and trading. Police had been investigating the case for about six months, and the 11 suspects have been charged with organized crime, larceny, receiving stolen property, and violating the Forestry Act.
The police said they had been collaborating with the Forestry Bureau on this case, utilizing remote CCTV, time-lapse cameras, and other tech tools to monitor the illegal activities and collect evidence. After amendments to the Forestry Act made last year, illegal loggers face imprisonment of up to 10 years and six months, in addition to a heavy fine, for stealing wood from trees listed by the government as endangered species.
(Taiwan Forestry Bureau image)