Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – The Bengkalis Police in Riau arrested last Wednesday four residents of Rupat Island on suspicion of illegal logging.
Bengkalis Police chief Adj Sr. Comr. Hendra Gunawan said authorities found one of the suspects, identified as SUN, transporting 58 pieces of punak scantlings in his pickup truck on Wednesday.
"When asked about the source of the scantlings, he said they were from a limited production forest [HPT] in Darul Aman village," Hendra told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Based on SUN's statements, the police managed to discover the place where the illegal logging was taking place and arrested two other suspects, identified as TUM and JAS.
"Police officers found a chainsaw, 300 meranti and punak logs, 58 wood planks and 95 scantlings," Hendra explained.
Police also arrested a suspect identified as SUJ, who is believed to have funded the illegal logging activities.
Head of the Bengkalis Police's criminal Investigation department, Adj. Sr. Comr, Adre Setiawan, said authorities had been probing illegal logging activities in the forest since the end of 2019.
"After a land fire in the area we found signs of systemic illegal logging. But it was quite hard to capture the suspects as the location is quite remote and locals are used to illegal logging activities," he said.
"When we were transporting the suspects and the evidence, around 50 locals threw stones and tried to stop us," he added.
The four suspects have been charged under articles 83, 12, and 94 of Law No 18/2013 on the prevention and eradication of forest damage, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. (nal)