Organised crime is now a big player in illegal logging, which accounts for up to 30 percent of all wood traded globally, the UN and Interpol warned on Thursday.
In the mid-2000s, some tropical countries reported a fall in illicit forest clearance, but this may well have been a mirage, they said.
In fact, criminals laundered profits into tree plantation companies.
They used these as fronts for driving corridors into old forests, plundering trees which they frequently passed off as wood from sustainable sources.
“In many cases a tripling in the volumes of timber ‘originating’ from plantations in the five years following the law enforcement crackdown on illegal logging has come partly from cover operations to criminals to legalise and launder illegal logging operations,” said the report, Green Carbon: Black Trade.
Between 50 to 90 per cent of logging in the Amazon basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia is illegal, although not all of this is from organised crime,...
A similar report says the organized crime is behind 90% of tropical deforestation.
Lax enforcement and lack of transparency for bank money laundering enables the illegal logging which directly drives Climate Change.
... deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, responsible for one-fifth of humanity’s emissions.
... I think its important to think about how these types of organized crime activities are enabled. Sophisticated transnational organized crime cannot exist without ready access to sophistical transnational money laundering.
The recent Senate investigation of HSBC found that the bank was widely involved in all sorts of activity either directly or indirectly connected to drug cartels and terrorist groups. The Senate report was clear that their investigation of HSBC was a case study, and many other banks were likely to be violating anti-money laundering (AML) laws in the exact same way.
After the Wachovia money laundering scandal, which featured remarkably similar behavior to HSBC’s, the bank was fined just $50 million (plus $110 million in asset forfeiture) for almost $400 billion worth of illegal business.
No one went to jail after the Wachovia scandal, and so far no individual has been charged with a crime after HSBC.
We have evidence that we can pin some illegal logging on U.S. banks and financial institutions.
... we need to, in addition to strengthening AML laws and enforcement, end hidden company ownership by passing the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act. A recent article in the Economist found that it was easier to form an anonymous shell company in the United... than pretty much anywhere else in the world, which contributes significantly to our money laundering problems. [emphasis mine]
One Mexican community took the law into their own hands in self-defense against illegal loggers.
The loggers, who local residents say are protected by one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations and given a virtual free pass by the country’s authorities, had terrorized the community at will for years.
Cherán’s residents said they had been subjected to multiple episodes of rape, kidnapping, extortion and murder by the paramilitary loggers, who have devastated an estimated 70 percent of the surrounding oak forests that sustained the town’s economy and indigenous culture for centuries.
Organized criminal syndicates, like the drug cartel La Familia, created in Michoacán, act like a state within a state, making their own rules and meting out grisly punishments to those who do not obey.
But here in Cherán, a group of townspeople took loggers hostage, expelled the town’s entire police force and representatives of established political parties, and forcibly closed the roads.
The Mexican government authorities had previously ignored their repeated pleas for help, the residents said, so the people of Cherán simply took the law into their own hands.