Security forces sneaked up on 37-year-old Edgar René Amador Jeni of La Calzada Mopan Village in the province of Dolores shortly after midday last Saturday, September 29.
Jeni was busy with his buzz-saw, cutting a mahogany log into lumber and did not hear the patrol as it approached, but his companion ran off when he saw the BDF soldiers.
The joint forces patrol now based at Tapir Camp deep in the Chiquibul Forest, heard several chainsaws buzzing late into the night. Knowing that these timber thieves are elusive and hard to catch, the patrol set off immediately, intent on surprising the looters.
They came across Jeni and his companion at one hour after midnight. Jeni had a brand new 070 Stihl chain saw which he was using to cut a mahogany log into slabs. As the patrol approached, both men made a dash to escape, leaving their horses behind. One man got away but the patrol detained Jeni and his chain saw. They also impounded the two horses.
Security forces brought Jeni to the San Ignacio Police Station after a 3-hour night trek through the forest. He has been charged with illegal entry into Belize, illegal logging, drug possession and bringing animals into Belize without the proper documentation.
Jeni later told Belizean authorities that they had already disposed of two trees when the patrol caught them. He told authorities that his employer pays him 100 Quetzales (about $28.00) per day for cutting the trees and sawing them into manageable planks which the horses would then drag through the bush into Guatemalan territory.
This area of the Caracol Reserve is feeling the impact of illegal logging the most, because many of the illegal loggers plundering this part of the Chiquibul forest come from the village of La Rejoya, which is just 400 meters inside Guatemala, along our western border.
Last week Friends of Conservation reported that illegal logging is costing Belize more than US$7 million per year. It is a growing problem that will not go away, Friends of Conservation report .