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Dec 13, 2012

Illegal logwood, 6 busted; including Agriculture Ministry Employee

On Wednesday, we reported that a moratorium has not stopped the extraction and exportation of rosewood from the south. And tonight, the Forestry Department has its hand full because a shipment of various species of precious woods was confiscated at the Belize City Port on Wednesday; the third this week. As required, Forestry officials were checking and certifying the cargo and detected that what was in the containers did not match what was in the export permit. The logs are currently being held at the Forestry Department at Forest Drive. On Tuesday, six persons were detained after more than eighty pieces of rosewood were found in the Toledo District several miles from the seacoast of Punta Gorda Town, at Gomez Estate in Eldridge Village. A tractor belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture parked in area where the rosewood was found was also impounded and an employee of the ministry has been charged along with five others. There is another recent case. On Sunday night, a joint operation by the Forestry Department, Police and B.D.F., intercepted a shipment of two thousand board feet of rosewood. And on Tuesday, the confiscated rosewood went missing from where it was being stored by the Forestry Department. Chief Forestry Officer, Wilbur Sabido, told News Five about the recent busts.

 

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido, Chief Forestry Officer

Wilbur Sabido

“To confirm yes we’ve actually been confiscating quite a large volume of material that was harvested illegally in the south and the majority of material that we have confiscated in the Toledo District is rosewood. We’ve conducted several operations along with the police and B.D.F. and fortunately we’ve managed to confiscate on two separate occasions two relatively large volumes of rosewood. As you rightly mentioned the first instance we confiscated a little bit over two thousand board feet of rosewood and unfortunately the material went missing which for the records of the forestry department is an untenable situation and we are working with police to assist them with whatever we can in the course of their investigation. And we hope that one; we will recover the material and second find out who are the individuals that were involved in the removal of the materials from the compound in the Machaca Forest Station.”

 

Duane Moody

“Do you feel that that was an inside job?”

 

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“Well I wouldn’t want to venture to comment on anything related to that. We are still doing our investigation and I don’t want to prejudice it. But if it so happens that it was an inside job in the instance of our officers conspiring in illegal activities then we will take action. The second incident where you stated on Wednesday afternoon, we received information and we deployed our officers immediately to go along with police to the area where they confiscated seventy pieces of rosewood. This would be around five thousand board feet of material. We also apprehended six individuals along with a tractor and trailer. What we did today was to lay charges against the individuals that we caught with the material. They were charged with illegal possession.”

 

Duane Moody

“That tractor; it was registered to the Ministry of Agriculture. What does this mean? Is the Ministry of Agriculture supporting the illegal extraction of rosewood?”

 

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“I would not dare to at this point comment on that. I think that is also part of the internal investigation that that particular ministry will be going through. But the fact of the matter is that yes we did arrest an individual that was an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture and he was in fact driving the tractor that we confiscated that was pulling a trailer loaded with rosewood.”

 

Duane Moody

“What does this mean: one ministry enforcing the rules or the laws and then another breaking them?”

 

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“Well, again that is something that I would not want to speculate on but for me what I am dealing with is the fact of the matter in the sense that we did our…”

 

Duane Moody

“Your due diligence and your part?”

 

Via Phone: Wilbur Sabido

“Yes, this is my part.”

 

The shipment of rosewood confiscated on Sunday was valued at over a hundred thousand dollars while the eighty pieces busted on Tuesday are valued at about two hundred and sixty thousand Belize dollars.

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15 Responses for “Illegal logwood, 6 busted; including Agriculture Ministry Employee”

  1. Storm says:

    So far I’m impressed by the swift action of the Forestry Department [and Mr. Sabido in particular] to catch a crook in their midst. It’s a good first step.

    But they must win the game, meaning get a conviction and put these people in prison for a long time.

    I modestly propose 2 laws:

    1. Every person who illegally extracts lumber MUST serve ONE YEAR IN PRISON FOR EVERY 100 BOARD FEET TAKEN. That would be 20 years in prison for each person involved in the 2000 foot case, for example.

    2. Every public employee, such as the arrested Forestry Department official, MUST SERVE DOUBLE THE NORMAL SENTENCE in prison. So, 40 years for him. For workers on the public payroll to commit crimes is a little bit like treason, and they need to be punished much more harshly as an example.

    Do you agree or disagree?

  2. Simone says:

    how hypocritical Minister Lisel-you want to stop progress and then rape the forest using your uniform. Maybe if you got out of your supersize gas guzzler pickup 350, and drive in a Prius, we would know youre serious about the environment like other true environment ministers worldwide.

  3. nigel says:

    “A tractor belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture parked in area where the rosewood was found was also impounded and an employee of the ministry has been charged along with five others”… What is wrong with this picture? Rod this is one time I will give credence to what you say about this government being “corrupt and incompetent”. WOW I would never in a million years have thought I would ever agree with anything that Rod the Racist says. So they take our (us the tax payer) tractor with our fuel to rob us… I would have said rob us blind but it seems this government has a policy of we do what we like and F the people if they don’t like it; but I guess under a system of totalitarianism this policy is totally acceptable. When will we start asking the questions that really matter, like how this employee can uses a tractor belonging to the people of Belize to do this without regulation? Who was he working for? Who does the container confiscated at the port belong to? All this doing requires money and very high connections; but I guess all that doesn’t matter to the ordinary Belizean. Do you people realize that the only thing that causes a sense of fervor and likeminded thinking among us is some scandal being played out on some stupid show on TV or on facebook? I can’t see how it doesn’t bother anyone to know that their great grand kids will be paying for our lack of concern and why doesn’t it matter to us that the only thing we will leave behind for them is a once natural resource rich wasteland? My people have we all devolved to the point of having the mental aptitude of Rod complete with his signature narrow minded one way of seeing things? I think this news outlet needs to start incorporating nonsensical gossip into their actual news stories to garner people’s attention towards the things that should really matter to them. If we continue to be so lackadaisical the powers that be (no matter what color or side of the fence they represent) will continue to treat us and our beloved Belize with careless contempt.

  4. Cat says:

    Come on Wilber! You know your Forest Officers are involved…especially those at Machaca Field Station. Those are the real crooks!

  5. Al says:

    What the h@## is going on has everyone fallen and bumped their heads and now have amnesia. The people in authority, in high positions who are suppose to protect the country are the ones selling it out to the highest bidder. We have killed the guatemalans who dare to steal our rosewood, what are we going to do with the people who are suppose to protect it, but for persoanl gain, the almighty dollar thumb their noses at the law. I want to hear from the PM.

  6. Matias Ramirez says:

    We should ask the Minister of Natural Resources and his brother I’m sure we could have a lot of our questions answered. They did the same thing in Orange Walk in the Freshwater Creek Reserve they plundered all the timber from the reserve .

  7. Seletar says:

    I heard at another source that one of the recent rosewood thieves is named . . . Delmer ALAMILLA.

    What a weird coincidence, I wonder if the Hon. Lisel Alamilla knows him?

    A scandal a day for this GOB!

  8. Normal Bzean says:

    Most of the government is implicated, in the illegal harvest of rosewood.

    How can customs not do anything, or they do not exit Belize? We are talking of a large number of feet. Won’t be surprised that the ministers are filling their pockets from this illegal harvesting.

    We should follow Cayman Islands.

    http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/news/cayman_islands_news/643175.html#axzz2F2qJPcst

  9. Louisville,Ky says:

    @ nigel…..that diatribe you just let off is much ado about nothing. In the past month or so we have all witnessed the various law enforcement agencies that this administration has put in place with the kind assistance of foreign Governments.Methinks they are genuinely attempting to arrest this heavy feeling of suspicision and corruption that hangs over the heads of government officials. And it’s not even like I am trying to defend them, for they are quite capable of doing it themselves.
    But, lets call a spade a spade, dude. Did not the head Honcho from forestry go on national TV and say there is a full scale investigation under way to determine exactly who the culprits are? What part of that did you not get? Never mind, the fact that you actually agrees with Rod, speaks volumes about your intellect or lack there of. You may even be rod himself, who knows?
    Suffice to say tho, that when you want to be biased to the point of being dishonest, there is absolutely nothing one may do to let you see the light.
    As far as you are concerned,The Man is damned if he do and damned if he don’t! You grinding an axe for real.

  10. marie says:

    Just another story for TV, but like any crime committed involving Gov’t nothing will be done.

  11. Artful says:

    At least Belize is making progress: THE PD SAYS CRIME IS DOWN, BUT MAYBE BECAUSE THEY KEEP ARRESTING THEIR OWN. NOW THE PD WHO ARRESTS THEIR OWN WILL INVESTIGATE THE AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT FOR STEALING FROM THE FOREST DEPARTMENT!!!

    WOW! SOME PROGRESS. Yea, crime is down,….which means murder is no longer a crime!

  12. Rod says:

    Nothing but thieves in this gov . Kick all a dem out jail this whole entire gov from pm down all crooks damm.

  13. stay focus says:

    who had the permit? Gil Alamilla, the minister’s cousin. so she place a moratorium on every one then gave her cousin a permit. oh my what a farce.we change monkey fu black dawg. all the same UDPs, husslers

  14. nigel says:

    @ Louisville, KY… In regards to your direct question to me “Did not the head Honcho from forestry go on national TV and say there is a full scale investigation under way to determine exactly who the culprits are? What part of that did you not get?” I got all of it but you my friend (and this is going on the assumption that you are indeed from Louisville, Ky and therefore not in Belize) need to read the other comments submitted by other readers and based on their general cynicism you may (probably a long shot for you) get a sense of how people other than myself regard the government. Time and time again whether it be passport scandal, land scandal, plane landing (while the radar is “broken”), a person in handcuff dying while in police custody, misappropriated funds etc. etc. etc. the government of the day always release a generic “full scale investigation under way” statement which almost everyone (that lives here in Belize) have come to regard these words as being as useful as used toilet paper. So you my friend should concern yourself with the goings on of the republican and democratic parties for we all know what the outcome of this “full scale investigation” is going to be and if by chance you are presently living here in Belize then you are way out of touch. Everyone in the know knows who the major players are and like us Belizeans seh “if dah noh so, dah nearly soh!” I have stated in the past that we should criticize the government when they do wrong and praise and encourage them when they do write. They have done a lot of good so far but there are just some things (such as this) that we cannot just ignore, for it is basically the rape of our motherland and our children’s heritage by the rich and greed 1%. I think the thing that makes me the angriest is the way they take us for ignorant fools that knows no better. So let’s look at this for a second, this one point that lead me to sarcastically agree with Rod for stating the obvious… a Ministry of Agriculture Tractor was used not a Ministry of Housing and Urban Development tractor because if it was then we can afford ourselves the luxury of ignorance by saying well maybe the rosewood was to construct homes for the poor. So even Rod would agree with me when I say that if this is not gross incompetency (possibly intentional incompetency) by the powers that be then I don’t know how else we can call the “spade a spade”. You are going to tell me that the person in charge of that tractor wasn’t doing his job in making sure that Ministry Of Agriculture employee wasn’t using it for any other business other than that of the Ministry? Or could it be that he was doing exactly as instructed. The point here Louisville, Ky we the people will never know for it is not the purpose of any “full scale investigation” to reveal any sort of accountability. Trust me even if they do reveal their findings it will be so vague (to the point of being insulting) and we will be so enthralled by the goings on of another scandal that we will all ask ourselves these questions, what investigation? about what tractor and something about some rosewood? It’s a show, it’s all smoke and mirrors my friend and it speaks volumes about your intellect or lack thereof that even a creature like Rod can figure this out. All this considered just ask yourself this unbiased question, when was the last time a government official (PUP or UDP) has been found guilty after one of these “full scale investigations” has been concluded and when was the last time one of them has sent to jail or ordered to pay a fine? The answer is simple my friend. The only losers are we the people for the attorneys/government officials own the law firms that get paid millions to investigate themselves.

  15. dunfedup says:

    Any body else see the connection here? DPM Vega had forestry under his control in last administration and corruption in that dept was rampant. Now he is minister of agriculture and now they are stealing from forestry. Some progress wouldn’t you say. Imagine him as PM! I say hang ‘em all and send a message including both ministers who have their people involved. See if that doesn’t reduce the illegal logging fiasco.

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