Prosecutors indict four over illegal logging ring

12/01/2022 09:32 PM
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The timber pieces seized during recent raids by the local authorities. Photo courtesy of a private contributor
The timber pieces seized during recent raids by the local authorities. Photo courtesy of a private contributor

Taipei, Dec. 1 (CNA) Prosecutors said Thursday they have indicted two Vietnamese migrant workers who overstayed their visas and two Republic of China (Taiwan) citizens for illegally logging and processing illegal timber from a protected tree species.

The indictment notes that the two Vietnamese suspects, aged 37 and 39, entered a state-owned forest in Nantou County's Puli Township numerous times from May 28 to July 30, 2022, where they chopped down Taiwan Cypress trees -- a species that is protected under the Forestry Act, Nantou District Prosecutors' Office said.

The two suspects, who belonged to a logging ring comprising four Vietnamese migrant workers, then sold part of the timber they illegally logged for NT$96,000 (US$3,134) to a Taiwanese woman surnamed Cheng (鄭) on three occasions, prosecutors said.

Cheng then transported the wood to a workshop owned by a man surnamed Wang (王) in Taibao City, Chiayi County, where it was processed into essential oil and ornaments, they said.

Investigating prosecutors directed police to raid the ring's hideout in Changhua County's Shengang Township where they seized 19 pieces of timber. A further 12 pieces were found at Wang's facility and essential oil at Cheng's home, they said.

The state-owned forest in which the two Vietnamese suspects trespassed is designated for the purpose of water resource conservation, and logging is prohibited without permission from the Forestry Bureau, they added.

Cheng knew the timber came from a suspicious source but purchased it anyway, while Wang should have known that the trading of Taiwan Cypress is basically outlawed, except in very rare cases where the logging predates the ban, they said.

Cheng, Wang and the two Vietnamese suspects were charged with infractions of the Forestry Act, while the two migrant workers were also charged with involvement in organized crime.

(By Hsiao Po-yang and Sean Lin)

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