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Cops seize more wood from lumber smuggling

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

CLOSE TO 900 pieces of lumber with a street value of nearly $5 million were seized on the weekend by police investigators who have widened their probe of a lumber racket uncovered last week.

Speaking to The Gleaner yesterday, Assistant Commandant Calvin Allen of the Island Special Constabulary Force said the lumber, some treated and ready for export, were seized from premises in the Red Hills area of St Andrew.

He said his investigators were following strong leads, which indicated that the racket was very high-tech and well financed.

"This is not a small man thing ... these people are fully supported and they have all the equipment they require," he added.

The lumber was derived from the juniper tree, commonly called juniper cedar, which is one of Jamaica's rare and native species.

The Forestry Department said it came from the Cinchona section of the Blue Mountain Range.

When contacted yesterday, eastern zonal director at the Department, Donna Lowe, said a team had been sent to the area to determine the extent of the deforestation cause by the illegal activity.

Explaining the scheme, Allen said the trees were chopped up and treated before being sold to individuals locally.

These individuals would then sell them overseas to be used in the high-end furniture industry.

The juniper cedar, according to the Forestry Department, takes approximately 40 years to mature and are mainly found on the eastern end of the island.

The wood derived from it is one of the most beautiful of the ornamental woods in Jamaica, with a reddish-brown colour, a fine and uniform texture and a very distinct aroma.