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Illegal loggers arrested & fined for unlawful possession of forest produce Print E-mail
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Friday, 06 October 2017 00:00

Belmopan: 28th September 2017

Pablo Valladarez, a 47-year-old resident of Guinea Grass Village, Orange Walk District,was fined $22,838 for illegal possession of Mahogany yesterday. Police and Forest Department officials intercepted Valladarez, Catalino Copo, Nelson Mosa, and Aurelio Mai, residents of Guinea Grass and Santa Martha villages, hauling illegally harvested Mahogany on the Old Northern Highway, Orange Walk District, on 24th September 2017.

The Forest Department confiscated 34 unstamped Mahogany logs, equivalent to 1268.8 board feet, and charged the four men for “Unlawful Possession of Forest Produce” under the Forest Act of 2000 and its 2017 Amendment. On 27th September, the men appeared before Magistrate Albert Hoare in the Orange Walk Magistrate Court, where Valladarez pleaded guilty to the charges. As a result, Valladarez may face five years imprisonment if he is unable to pay the fine by 31st January 2018.

Prior to this incident, the Forest Department also intercepted Juan Reyes, a resident of Carmelita Village, Orange Walk District, in possession of multiple timber species such as Negrito, Santa Maria and Mahogany. He was consequently fined for Unlawful Possession of Forest Produce on 19th September 2017.

“Our Department is seriously cracking down on this pervasive problem of illegal logging,” said Saul Cruz, Officer in Charge, Orange Walk Range, Forest Department. Cruz explained that timber harvesting can be highly lucrative but illegal logging destroys our opportunities. “It is a forest crime that threatens the future of our sustainable logging industry, our environment, the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, and our local and national economy,” he added.

The passage of the 2017 Amendment to the Forest Act provides stricter penalties to match the seriousness of the offences but the Department recognized that laws alone are insufficient. As a result, the Department continues to step-up efforts by forging stronger ties with other law enforcement officials, building community awareness, and increasing monitoring and law enforcement exercises.

The department reminds the public that the logging season is closed from June 15th to October15th and any logging during this period is strictly prohibited. This ensures safer logging operations, protect forest soils and reduce damage to public roads during the rainy season. Report forest crimes to the Forest Department at 822-2079 or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .