A millionaire robbery has been taking place in the South Macrozone and that is the theft of wood. A gang of criminals would be behind this, a crime that has increased due to the violence in the area.
Carabineros has carried out different operations for the prompt arrest of “criminal companies” dedicated to this type of work and that, according to the police institution, would have to do with organizations dedicated to crime in the region.
“This process of exploiting the forests is being developed, the vehicles they use to move inside the property, some banners that also show their connection with some organization that operates in different crimes in the region,” indicates the general. Manuel Cifuentes, chief IX of the Araucanía.
Although people who are “alone” can be seen stealing wood, from the forestry companies union, they assure that they are organized gangs dedicated to this illicit activity.
Juan José Ugarte, president of the Chilean timber corporation, affirms that “they are organized robberies, sophisticated, with the latest technology” and that they have roles that make this “criminal gang” work.
Incredibly, these bands work with machinery that costs between 90 to 400 million each and it is unknown how they managed to get them.
Where are these crimes committed?
According to figures provided by Carabineros, this type of robbery has been carried out since 2017, when there is a record, in regions such as Biobío and Los Lagos, with more than 4,000 cases.
They are then followed by La Araucanía and Los Ríos, concentrating mostly in communes such as Curanilahue, Los Álamos, Collipulli, Cañete and Victoria, although there are more than 106 localities where these crimes are carried out. However, only in 2022, until July 24, 586 wood thefts have already been registered, with about 204 detainees.
That is why, these thefts are not random. Ugarte, president of the Chilean wood corporation, explains that these subjects “study” the land before carrying out the robberies.
“There is criminal intelligence work here. They investigate where the properties are, the farms with the largest trees, the mature trees, and with that investigation it is defined where to fence, which roads to cut,” he asserts.
After taking these lands, they are defended with weapons. And it is that the “work” that they carry out can take from 6 months to 2 years. After cutting the wood, the loads are transported in vehicles with adulterated license plates and drivers with false documentation.
There are no guilty
Gerardo Cerda is a businessman from Angol and his company provides services to forestry companies, whether in workers, machinery and trucks. Unfortunately, in 2020 he suffered an attack by unknown individuals, who destroyed his equipment.
“They left two banners with a claim and to this day we do not have a response from who was the cause or for what reason,” says Cerda.
“They enter as if it were their land and enter a series of machinery freely because no one is going to prohibit them from entering those sectors,” he says.
Given this, he says that “since there was never a solution, there was never an answer, there was never a culprit of whoever carried out these acts, I decided to leave it as a memory.”
Linked with the CAM?
According to Cerda, these robberies occur “in certain places that are supposedly a red zone where no one enters. But curiously, all these people who are dedicated to reducing wood, can get it out.”
That is why, added to the attack he suffered, it can be deduced that they could be linked to radicalized groups present in the southern macrozone.
On July 7, at the Galvarino illegal slaughterhouse, General Cifuentes pointed out that messages referring to the Arauco Malleco Coordinator (CAM) were found: “We found some banners that are directly linked to the conflict of rural violence. So we presume based on the fact that the people who were dedicated to this activity could have been part of this type of organization”.
The relationship between the gangs and these radicalized groups, according to Cerda, is that it would be the form of financing: “I think that the theft of wood, in a certain way, finances all these violent groups.”
However, the prosecutor Cristian Paredes, director of violent crimes of the National Prosecutor’s Office, points out that this is not yet proven and that it is n research process.
“That is part of the investigations that are being carried out. What I can reliably affirm is that there are indeed cases in which it is possible to find a direct communicating vessel between certain claims that are alleged or postulated, with the usurpation of properties that are in condition of being exploited forestry and the commission of these crimes of theft and robbery of wood”, he concludes.