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   Gaharu News Aceh Police Arrest 21 Vietnamese Nationals For Suspected Illegal Logging

Banda Aceh. Police in Aceh said on Monday that they arrested 21 Vietnamese nationals for suspected illegal logging in Leuser Mountain National Park in Southeast Aceh, and for violating immigration laws.

A team of a dozen police officers arrested the suspects in a series of raids, according to Southeast Aceh Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Trisno Riyanto.

“It is true that the 21 Vietnamese nationals are in our custody. We have enough evidence to charge six of them for violating laws in the forestry sector, while the others [are] suspected of visa violations,” Trisno said.

The 15 suspected of violating their visas will be deported soon, although further coordination with the immigration office was still needed, Trinso added.

He also said the arrests were the result of tips from locals who reported suspicious activity in the Ketambe forest area. Police conducted raids and road blocks on Sunday evening around 10:00 p.m — a van with seven people was stopped at one of the road controls, where six Vietnamese and an Indonesian were arrested.

Police searched the van, and found nine kilograms of Gaharu, a precious and endangered wood, as well as three Gaharu seedlings, all of which are believed to have been taken from Leuser Mountain National Park.

Gaharu is a heartwood which grows as a large evergreens in certain regions of Southeast Asia. The dark, dense resin embedded in the wood is valued for its distinctive fragrance.

After questioning the original suspects, 15 other Vietnamese were later arrested.

“Although they had passports, their visas had expired,” Trisno said, adding that they appeared to have been in the park since July 31.

He believes the suspects are part of an international syndicate dealing in Gaharu because of the high prices the fragrant wood can fetch.

Source: Jakarta Globe

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