The Friends For Conservation and Development - known as FCD - sounded the alarm last week that the plunder of the Chiquibul Forest was continuing unabated.

Well, now they are doing something about it. On Friday The Caracol Joint Enforcement Unit, which comprises an FCD Ranger along with BDF soldiers and a Police Officer were patrolling an area known as Tunkul, 10 kilometers - about 6 miles from the western border. Located south west of the Caracol Archaeological Reserve, the area is known for illegal logging operations and on Friday the patrol could hear the snarl of the chainsaws.

The team inched up on the area, but wherever there is logging, there is a lookout and sure enough, a 14 year old was found on one of the tracks. But he wasn't looking out, he was extracting Xate. Three horses with 12,000 Xate leaves were found that belonged to him. He told the patrol that the Xate was being transported to one Rudy from Guatemala.

He reported that he had been bringing the xate from the area of Monkeytail River which is some 35 kilometers - more than 20 miles inside Belize. Because he is a child, the Unit did not handcuff him and he capitalized on that by escaping into the jungle later that day.

Thereafter the patrol arrived at the logging zone where the first Guatemalans who noticed the patrol started to shout. This alerted the other loggers, but because of the loud rattle of the chainsaws - one remained, and he was found cutting the log. He told the patrol he is from Las Brisas de Chiquibul - a Guatemalan village. He carried a rifle and three .22 bullets. Another firearm was also recovered in the area - a 12 gauge shotgun and five shotgun shells. Evelio informed that he was cutting lumber to be transported later to Nueva Armenia where the buyer of this lumber is one Carlos Martinez. The lumber is then transported to Guatemala City. According to him, he is paid $125.00 quetzales per the day approximately 34 Belize dollars for cutting the logs into flitches.

The Patrol estimated that there were at least 8 persons operating in the area, 8 chainsaws and 4 firearms. Evelio was extracted from Tunkul at 11:00 a.m. arriving at the San Ignacio Police Station at 10:15 p.m. where he was handed over to the Police Department. It is expected that he will be charged for possession of an Un-licensed firearm, unlicensed ammunition, illegal logging and illegal entry.

Channel 7