Fraudulent Use of Peruvian Logging Permits at Root of U.S. Lumber Seizure

Lumber that was recently destroyed by the U.S. Department of Justice after being seized in the Port of Houston was allegedly sawn from logs illegally harvested in the Amazon forests of Peru. 

Peruvian authorities claimed that the logging permits used to harvest the logs were, in fact, authorized for a specie other than the one that was logged, sawn and exported.

The U.S Forest Service tested samples from the seized shipment and concluded that the lumber was not the specie authorized for harvest.

peru-lumber-suppliers-iquitos-nasa-satellite-image
Figure 1. Aerial view of Iquitos, Peru – the port of origin where illegally harvested lumber was permitted for export to the U.S. (Photo: NASA)

 

Using the logging permits of one specie to harvest another, unauthorized specie, is one way in which illegal lumber enters the marketplace at the point of harvest.

The illegal activity that led to the seizure in Houston occurred in Peruvian forests by Peruvian entities.

Despite this, the Lacey Act stipulates that anyone in the U.S. who participates in the commercialization of wood that has illegally entered the supply chain, even if the illegality occurred in a foreign country, is liable for penalties.

The question remains, if Peruvian authorities were aware of the illegality of the lumber, why was it permitted for export in the first place?

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