Authorities in East Java have arrested a police officer after he was allegedly found to be linked with illegal logging of highly valuable trees.
Sumi Andra, the general crimes unit head of the Trenggalek Police, said the suspect — only identified as Chief Brigadier ‘S’ — was labeled a suspect after legal procedures, The Jakarta Post reported.
The Indonesian police officer ‘S’ was allegedly involved in the theft of rosewood logs from a state-owned road in Tulungagung regency.
Andra explained that ‘S’ reportedly assisted in the illegal logging by posing as a security officer when the rosewood trees were being felled.
A total of 89 rosewood trees were stolen and they had a combined value of at least 2 billion rupiah (US$155,840) and ‘S’ was paid for being part of the operation.
M. Ichwan Mustofa, head of the Environmental Education Center (PPLH) Mangkubumi in Tulungagung, said a number of government officials had agreed to form a task force dedicated to investigating cases of rosewood trees being stolen.
In a number of cases, the suspects falsified permits for trimming overgrown branches and cut down entire trees.
Witnesses who spotted these occurrences saw uniformed individuals, such as police officers, standing guard as the thieves chopped down the rosewood trees.
Rosewood is an endangered species classified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES.) Its rarity makes it a coveted commodity with substantial monetary value. In 2014, the value of rosewood was reported to be more than US$17,000 per ton in the Chinese market.