Logging a $15B Racket for Organized Crime
World Bank says illegal forest operations are big business
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Mar 21, 2012 2:46 PM CDT
Cut trees are pictured in central Greece on January 9, 2012. Illegal logging has taken on epidemic proportions, according to reports from forestry services.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Ah, those classic gangster rackets: drugs, prostitution, gambling, and, of course, wood. Illegal logging has become a major endeavor for organized crime, raking in as much as $15 billion a year, according to a new report from the World Bank. Scofflaws with chainsaws are running wild in places such as Indonesia, Madagascar, and West Africa, the report says, estimating that a soccer field-sized chunk of forest is cleared every second.

"We need to fight organized crime in illegal logging the way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering," says one World Bank official, according to the BBC. "Most forest crimes go undetected, unreported, or are ignored," the report says. It urges Western nations to stop buying illegal lumber—the US, for instance, passed a law three years ago requiring companies to prove their wood is legally sourced. Some companies are already being investigated under the law, including Gibson Guitar.

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
Mar 21, 2012 5:42 PM CDT
So those of us in the U.S. Get expensive wood and the rest of the world who does not give a dam get to buy it cheap
Mar 21, 2012 2:56 PM CDT
"Logging a $15B Racket for Organized Crime" All right buddy....is that some illegal wood in your pocket or are you just excited to see me?
Mar 21, 2012 2:56 PM CDT
I wouldn't care, except for the fact that the scofflaws most likely don't bother to reseed the forests cleared. The governments are probably just pursuing them for the lost tax revenue.