Take physic, pomp

Corrupt Peruvian police caught red-handed

Illegal logging in South America is a trade that catches plenty of attention in ecology and environmental protection circles. Much of the deserved flak is aimed at Brazil but on a per hectare basis, people such as the WWF recognize that Peru is an even bigger problem.

The Peruvian government, via its well-meaning Environment Minister Antonio Brack Egg (just the greatest name ever) has at least recognized that it has a problem on its hands. For example last year they voted a new law that raised the penalty for illegal logging from almost nothing to a mediocre deterrent. However, there’s not much point in getting all legal on the gangs of illegals when the police force themselves are party to this lucrative, corrupt and extremely enviro-damaging business.

Yesterday, a plane was stopped at Pucallpa airport (East Peru jungle city) on its way to Lima. The local customs officials had previously got an anonymous tip-off that the plane was carrying contraband from the jungle, and thus it proved: the plane was carrying 9,000 m3 of virgin mahogany, lumber that is totally banned from logging, no doubts, no flim-flam, no second-guessing. But the cutest thing about it all was the plane is a Peru National Police Force (PNP) Aircraft, with PNP pilots, livery and the whole caboodle. Here’s a photo of the plane itself on the tarmac at Pucallpa yesterday afternoon.

Hey boss! It’s da plane!

A guy in Lima named ‘Erick Arroyo’ is the client for said lumber, owner of a company called Mi Sueño’ (My Dream). We know the names of the aircraft crew, too (Rafael Fernando Ríos Zavala, José Bardales Rengifo, Oscar Bazalar Román, all police officers). The Commander and the General that command these officers are also now under investigation. It remains to be seen whether Peru will actually bother to prosecute its own corrupt functionaries for once, colour me sceptical and all that. As for the jungle and trees, with the law-enforcers up to their necks in this crime is it any wonder that nobody is ever punished in Peru for this environmental rape?

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