The Customs had seized 420 metric tonnes of Rosewood valued at Rs.1 bn in 28 containers at the Grayline II terminal, Customs Director General Jagath Wijeweera said today.
The detection is the largest detection ever made by any border agency against international illegal trade operations of Rosewood (Dalbergia spp)
“There were 3,669 logs weighing 420 Metric tones valued at US $7mn ,” he said.
The contraband was detected by the Bio Diversity and National Heritage Protection branch of the Sri Lanka Customs (BCNP).
“The contraband was detected during transshipment believed to have been smuggled from an east African country,” Mr. Wijeweera said.
He said, these containers were seized because the contents were not in compliance with the CITES -- the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species- agreement and it was internationally banned and prohibited.
The Director also said the BCNP had information of the smuggling operations of Rosewood from African countries through sea routes passing Sri Lanka by international racketeers.
He said that during last two months BCNP officials had been vigilant on suspected ship movements from African countries touching Sri Lankan ports enroute to far eastern countries.
With the reception on information officers intensified their surveillance and they were able to locate four containers first. Later additional 24 containers with same contraband were detected, he said.
“World Customs Organisation (WCO), International Police (INTERPOL) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had been trying for several years to capture this international activity,” he said.
Trading of endangered trees like Rosewood, Ebony, Sandalwood and Red sander is internationally banned.
Rosewood is considered as one of the most valuable tropical hardwood that is found in Madagascar, East Africa, Brazil and South East Asian Countries. (News and video by Chaturanga Pradeep) Click HERE to view pictures