Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Thirteen family members arrested in logging raids

BRANCHING OUT:The group allegedly has bases in mountainous areas of three counties and has connections with the underground market

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Police and Forestry Bureau officials on Thursday arrested 13 people and raided a dozen locations in connection with a group that allegedly specializes in illegal logging, prosecutors said yesterday.

The group is allegedly led by a man surnamed Cheng (鄭), 49, and includes his wife, son and other relatives, Hsinchu prosecutor Su Heng-yi (蘇恒毅) said.

“In the raids, we uncovered blocks of valuable wood. We also seized a modified handgun, several chain saws, backpacks with frames, sets of hand tools and records of financial transactions,” he said.

The freshly cut wood identified by bureau officials as Taiwanese incense cedar, stout camphor, Taiwanese red cypress and other protected species was waiting to be transported to towns for sale, Su said.

Hsinchu prosecutors said they have collected sufficient evidence to press charges relating to theft, illegal sale of stolen goods and contraventions of the Forestry Act (森林法).

Cheng and his family would also be charged for contravening the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例), as they allegedly operated an organized criminal ring with networks for poaching, transportation and underground sales, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors in coordination with the bureau and local police raided locations in mountainous areas of Hsinchu, Yilan and Nantou counties, as well as Taoyuan and Taichung cities.

Police began monitoring the group after receiving several tip-offs, finding that Cheng and his family have been living in remote communities and are familiar with local roads and trails.

They were also in contact with known groups of illegal poachers and loggers who are involved in underground sales channels, prosecutors said.

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