KOTA KINABALU: The Forestry Department enforcement team arrested a Cambodian, six illegal immigrants and a local for possession of gaharu wood (agarwood), a protected species, under the state’s laws and the international accord, CITES, on the trade of endangered species, in Keningau on February 2.
It is believed the gaharu was obtained illegally from protected forests, including parts of Maliau Basin.
The department said in a statement yesterday that the successful operation cumulated after a month-long surveillance observation and detection by the department.
The seized goods included several consignments of processed gaharu, kept in dwelling houses, ready for export and a four-wheel drive vehicle used for transportation to export points.
Of the eight suspects arrested, only one was a Malaysian. Ironically the Cambodian was in possession of a MyKad with permanent residence status which needs to be verified, said the department.
It added that the arrest was assisted with public co-operation and this is very much appreciated.
It is estimated that the gaharu seized is valued in the millions and the trade is linked to international buyers of various countries.
The department said the suspects shall be brought to court and charged under the Forest Enactment 1968.
If convicted, the Forestry Department shall apply for deterrent sentences due to the serious occurrences of gaharu theft in Sabah.