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#455514 - 01/18/13 07:44 AM Illegal Rosewood At The Border, At The Port
Marty Offline
This evening at six pm, two twenty foot containers filled with hundreds of flitches of illegal, unstamped Rosewood rolled out of the compound of Belize Engineering - which is adjacent to the customs building in Belize City. Those are being hauled to Belmopan where they have been impounded by the Forestry Department. It's the end result of what has been a long day for the Forestry Department and Customs - as illegal Rosewood has been appearing by the container-full all over the place!

We start in Benque Viejo where this morning Customs came upon a 40 foot container stuffed with 28 tonnes of Rosewood that was being imported into Belize from Guatemala. Sounds strange and it is because the container's paperwork says it is to be shipped out from the Port Of Belize to a company in China.

Now, Guatemala does not allow the exportation of Rosewood flitches. The flitches also didn't have any stamps FROM the forestry department in Guatemala. Actually, the only markings it had were chalk scribbling similar to the Rosewood catch that was burnt last week.

So, the theory here is that the Rosewood was smuggled from Belize into Guatemala and then brought back to Belize under the bogus cover of an import. Either that or it was slipped into the import section at the Benque border - which would only require the cooperation of a few corrupt persons.

Whatever the case, it was introduced to Belize territory yesterday and discovered today. While it is being held, the Forestry Department has contacted its counterparts in Guatemala.

And while that is being held at the Western border - there was an interesting development today in Belize City, which brings us right back to where this story started. The Forestry Department received information which told them that two twenty foot containers with Rosewood were sitting in the compound of Belize Engineering. Police and Customs were called. Along with the Forestry Department - they opened the container at 5:00 pm and found them, again, full of Rosewood flitches. The amount has not been tabulated yet, but the Rosewood has no stamp which makes it automatically illegal. Also, the containers they are stored in were released from Customs in November - which was after the Rosewood moratorium went into effect. With that, the Forestry Department quickly secured two heads and pulled them out at 6:00 pm, bound for safe storage in Belmopan.

Best indications are, that after the fallout with the last mass incineration, these will not be burnt.

Channel 7

#455525 - 01/18/13 08:21 AM Re: Illegal Rosewood At The Border, At The Port [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Move over pseudoephedrine; Rosewood now the hottest commodity

Move over pseudoephedrine, rosewood is now the hottest commodity. There were three busts of rosewood made today which signals that its illegal exportation is a brazen, lucrative and well organized scheme. Late this evening, two containers stored at Belize Engineering Limited adjacent to the Customs Compound on Caesar Ridge Road were opened at the request of the Forestry Department. An inspection by Police, Customs and Forestry officials led to the discovery of tons of rosewood reportedly belonging to Kambo King Enterprise. Information is sketchy, but it is also known that requests were made in November and December for the containers to be released for export. We also know that the contents of the containers were not declared. Tonight, the containers are being transported with Police escort to the Forestry Department in Belmopan for further investigation

Turning to the third bust, that container is sitting at the western border and the Ministry of Forestry says it is investigating its origin and legitimacy. The rosewood was confiscated when it was being transported into Belize at the western border on Wednesday. According to the Ministry, it is in a forty foot container weighing in at a whopping twenty-eight tons of flitches. If you do the math, calculated at two hundred and twenty board feet per ton at twelve dollars per board feet, the value of the rosewood is in the range of seventy-five thousand dollars. Now, here is what we have further learnt: the container carried Guatemalan registration but the vehicle transporting it has Belizean license plates. The markings on the flitches are eerily similar to those on the rosewood that was confiscated from one Hilmar Alamilla and set on fire by the Ministry of Forestry in Golden Stream on January eleventh.  The export documents also undervalue the cargo at twenty-thousand dollars. There are a lot of unanswered questions such as who owns the vehicle and who is the shipment consigned to locally. We also asked the Ministry if it is ruling out the possibility that the rosewood was simply re-routed into Belize and that it did not in fact originate from Guatemala but simply taken to the border to throw off its origins? Chief Forest Officer, Wilbur Sabido explains.

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido, Chief Forest Officer

“It was the Customs Department that informed us and let us know that according to the documentation that was provided, rosewood was being declared as being in the container. That particular container is presently being held up at the Benque Border and we, as the Forest Management entity, are coordinating with the national authorities in Guatemala to confirm the origin of the material and also whether or not it is a shipment that was authorized to be exported by the forestry authority in Guatemala.”

Duane Moody

“I’m understanding that Guatemala currently has a moratorium on rosewood as well. So this shipment would be illegal regardless of whether it is coming from Belize or Guatemala.”

Wilbur Sabido

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“Yes that is correct but in order for us to ensure that we do our due diligence, we do need to get confirmation from Guatemala first before we move to do anything in terms of pursuing legal action against the person or company that was bringing in material.”

Duane Moody

“The markings on these flitches look extremely similar to the ones that were burnt by the minister. Are these rosewood pieces of Belizean origin; suspected Belizean origin?”

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“I wouldn’t really dare to presume that just yet Duane because we have simply opened the container; we haven’t really offloaded any of the material just yet. But that is one of the suspicions that we have. We want to, beyond our own reasonable doubt, to confirm with the Guatemalan authorities that that is the case; that it is an illegal shipment. And so we need to get to the bottom of how it ended up at the border. If it is coming through Guatemala, having passed through that particular country’s border authorities. And so we also want to raise that point with the Guatemalan authorities and it takes time.”

Duane Moody

“Since the moratorium came out last year; that it is possible that these illegal loggers are maybe rerouting the shipment of these rosewood. Is it possible that maybe that is the case here?”

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“That is possible Duane. It is also possible that the material is being shipped under different description.”

Duane Moody

“We were reliably informed that when it comes to this particular case; that this is the first time that there is actually a transshipment of the precious wood through Belize. This has never happened before.”

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“That is correct; that is correct. This is the first time that we are intercepting a container coming through our western border into Belize—for it to be in transit from Belize into a final destination which I would assume would be china. This is a first time.”

Duane Moody

“Since it is being transshipped through Belize, wouldn’t there be an agent that is responsible for it that is from Belize?”

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“Yeah, I believe that that would be the case—either a broker, an agent or importer/exporter. And that is part of what we are trying to find out through customs. We don’t necessarily deal at that particular level in terms of getting that kind of information. So we are investigating the agent, as you call it, the broker, importer/exporter and we want to get to the bottom of this particular container.”

Third batch of rosewood confiscated in 24 hours

There is yet another bust that took place on Tuesday in the Independence area. It happened at farm twelve near the village of San Pablo which is located about fifteen miles from the Swasey Bridge. Forestry and BDF personnel conducted an operation over the past weekend and found the illegal cargo last Sunday evening. The MO is that the rosewood is transported to the farm and then shipped out at night. The patrol found clear signs of destructions of the forest left behind in the movement of the rosewood.


Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“We did receive last week Saturday that there was material in the Independence Area as an area referred to us as Farm twelve. Along with police we went, we checked to see if that was indeed the case and we found a tractor and trailer with rosewood material in it. We didn’t find anybody in the area so we transported the tractor and trailer to the Mango Creek Police Station where it is at. At this point we are waiting for the owners to declare themselves so that we can start building a case in terms of asking the relevant questions of how it is that the material ended up on the trailer and why the tractor was in the area; those sort of things. But at this point, we only have the equipment and the material.  I wouldn’t know who is doing the illegal harvesting. In terms of legal harvesting, we do have the Maya Mountain North presently under management by the company, but they are there as a recognized entity by us. But the material wasn’t found in that area, it was found a distance away. So in effect it is an illegal act.”

This particular bust yielded over forty flitches of rosewood. So, in the past five days there have been five busts of rosewood but the most dramatic and largest was on January ninth, when the minister of forestry in frustration set the confiscated flitches ablaze.

Channel 5

#455527 - 01/18/13 08:30 AM Re: Illegal Rosewood At The Border, At The Port [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Joint Statement Issued By Mayan Leaders

The Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association today issued a joint statement on the situation of the illegal harvesting of Rosewood in the Toledo district. The joint statement says that the illegal harvesting of rosewood trees from land owned by Maya villages and repeated issuance of what they call unlawful concessions by government on Maya lands are causes for great concern.

The Maya Leaders Alliance spokeswoman, Cristina Coc says now that the national spotlight is on the Toledo district because of the issue of illegal rosewood harvest, it is time for government, and in particular the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development Lisel Alamilla take definitive steps to end the injustices.

The joint statement issued by the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association also address what they say is blatant corruption in government, something they have been pointing out for quite some time now.

The joint statement ends by saying that the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association remain committed to supporting the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable development to stop the illegal exploitation of natural resources on lands owned and traditionally occupied by the Maya people of southern Belize.



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