A man in Riau province has been arrested by local police for allegedly encroaching on a conservation area in Pinggir district, Bengkalis regency.
The 23-year-old, identified as IR, was apprehended on Sunday night as he was allegedly transporting illegally logged timber using a pickup truck that was missing a license plate in West Tasik Serai village.
“We suspect that he intentionally chose night time to transport the lumber to avoid local authorities,” Pinggir Police chief Comr. Ernes Sitinjak said on Monday.
The arrest came following an anonymous tip the police received on Friday about a pickup truck that often passed through the village at night.
The police deployed a team on Saturday night to follow up on the information, but found nothing. On Sunday evening, however, officers caught sight of a suspicious truck in the area. The driver was IR, who resides in the village and allegedly sped away upon spotting the police.
Following a wild chase that lasted several minutes, RI crashed lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a police car after barreling through some bushes.
“We found illegally logged timber in the back of the truck,” Ernes added.
IR told the police that he had cut the trees down himself in an area in West Tasik Serai, which is part of the Giam Siak Kecil biosphere reserve, before chopping them up into logs that would be sold to an individual in neighboring Mandau district.
Investigators are still developing the case as they believe that IR did not work alone. IR has been named a suspect and is facing a maximum of 10 years in prison under the 2013 law on forestry. (ipa)