$500,000 in illegal logs seized, loggers escape raid

KUCHING - Authorities have seized illegal logs worth more than one million ringgit in Lawas in the latest raid under a statewide anti-logging and anti-graft operation.

In the 10.30am raid yesterday at Sungai Lumut, General Operations Force intelligence personnel and three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers seized 1,065 illegally felled logs of various species and sizes, state GOF deputy commander ACP Zahari Ahmad said.

The logs were found stacked up in eight piles.

"No arrests were made as the loggers were believed to have run away," he said.

"We believe that their modus operandi is to fell the logs in the forest and stack them up by the roadside, after which they will be transported out by lorry at night," he added.

ACP Zahari said the Forest Department estimated the seized logs to be worth RM1.3mil (S$500,000).

The seizure, which followed a public tip off, was made under the Sarawak Forest Ordinance and further investigations would be done by Lawas forestry officers, he said.

Last week, the MACC disclosed that 10 people, including a district CID chief, had been arrested in connection with illegal logging in the state.

The suspects, aged between 28 and 72, also included general managers, owners, camp managers and shareholders of 10 logging companies.

They were arrested in Limbang, Sibu, Kuching, Miri and Kapit.

The MACC said that illegal logging cost the state government some RM43mil in the first nine months of the year.