Monday, May 23

Ops Libas lands biggest seizure of illegal logs, equipment

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Tan (front, centre) and other personnel show the photos taken during the raid.

MIRI: The General Operations Force (GOF) Battalion 12’s Ops Libas has led to its biggest seizure of the year involving some RM3 million worth of illegal logs, logging equipment, and machinery.

The team seized logs believed to have been extracted from forests around Long Banyok in Baram District, three forklifts, two lorries, two excavators, two sawing machines, an air compressor, 14 saw blades, two generators, a saw sharpening machine, a welding machine, a chainsaw, and a plank fastener at the scene on Thursday (Aug 29) at around 1.30pm.

GOF Battalion 12 commanding officer Supt Tan Hiap Seng, who confirmed the seizure, said a 22-year-old suspect was also detained to facilitate the investigation.

Tan said a Battalion 12 team, led by Insp Rizuan Makladin, raided and inspected the timber mill, which was operating without legal documents, following information received and over a week of intelligence and observation.

“During the course of the investigation, police found 108 logs of various sizes and were cut at the area of ​​the plant, as well as 40 ‘batak’ logs.

“Further inspection also found 10,000 planks of various sizes and types, two lorries in which one of them contained 3,360 planks that had been uploaded to the lorry to be transported to places where they had been booked,” said Tan.

Tan further disclosed that during the investigation, a 22-year-old approached the team and identified himself as the caretaker.

“The man could not produce any relevant document related to permitted logging and was subsequently detained to facilitate investigation under the Sarawak Forest Ordinance 2015 for operating without a licence and believed to be illegal logging,” he said, adding that there was no other person in the mill at that time.

The man is believed to be the son of the factory owner.

Tan revealed that all the seized items were estimated to be worth about RM3 million.

“This is the biggest seizure for GOF Battalion 12 this year,” he said.

A report was lodged at Long Lama police station and the case had been handed over to the Forest Department for further action.Tan said the timber mill had been operating for over a year and it could be among the largest factories producing illegal planks and logs here.

According to him, illegal logging is still going on, but sometimes the areas involved are far inland, which requires a lot of time for the team to go to.

He said at times the culprits would have known about the operation as they could have hired people to be their ‘eyes and ears’.

“We will continue on our efforts to handle the illegal logging problem. We also plead that the public or anyone with related information, to channel them to us,” added Tan.