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Jan 17, 2013

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.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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12 Responses for “Move over pseudoephedrine; Rosewood now the hottest commodity”

  1. Seletar says:

    “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.” QUESTION: Was all of that rosewood actually, completely burned, or just enough to satisfy the media, and then salvaged to continue its illegal export?

    Plants can be identified by DNA just like people — why not check some of the flitches, and then compare them to the stumps left by the illegal loggers?

    GAPI IS A MONSTER, AND HE IS AT THE CENTER OF THIS CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY. Any good ideas on how to take him down and out of government?

  2. Anon says:

    That thing passed thru Jalacte and San Vicente moved to Chacte on Guatemalan side then re-entered thru Western border. I know people who make the Belize-Chacte-Belize run to get cheap produce and make a profit. Villagers in San Vicente claim they have no vehicles there but just three weeks ago, while in San Vicente, I saw three trucks with Belizean license plates covered with heavy tarp transporting something that can only be described as “of interest”. I have pictures to prove it.

  3. Dig Deep says:

    who owns Belize Engineering Ltd, the Singh brothers, former police min Doug and Ceo Mike. they need to clarify.

  4. egghead says:

    For readers who don’t have the slightest idea about the importance of the ROSEWOOD like I did, here is a link that might be of help.

  5. RG Belizean says:

    @ Egghead…Thanks!!!

  6. cayobway says:

    Damm!! vega wah bex wid the forestry department, and customs.

  7. MadDOG says:

    is the minister going to burn these too

  8. Storm says:

    1. Don’t burn the logs, burn the loggers.

    2. @Anon, I think you definitely should share your photos with the police and with organizations that oppose illegal logging. Criminals love the darkness; sunlight of truth is what the good people want.

  9. ceo says:

    There will be more discoveries too! Just folow the money trail I am sure it will lead to some very interesting people!

  10. Retired CEO says:

    @seletar to get rid of gapi is not difficult at all, remember Count Dracula, he cannot handle the light, just keeping exposing him and before you know it he will be history. When one turns on the light switch the bright light dispells the darkness. The darkness cannot put up a fight with the light.

  11. Storm says:

    @Retired CEO, I think that is a winning idea, just keep the light on Vega — hopefully someone in the media will get curious, too. Why does the Jewel seem to have no investigative reporters?

  12. Eye in the Sky says:

    More proof that the ONLY way to make money in Belize is ilegally

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