Never before had so much lumber been denied entry at a U.S. port on evidence that it was harvested illegally.
Homeland Security investigators in Houston, acting on intelligence from their Peruvian counterparts, halted 1,770 metric tons of Amazon rainforest wood — enough to cover three football fields. The October 2015 impoundment from a rusty freighter was a rare victory in the battle to preserve tropical forests and a blow against organized criminal logging in Peru, where the World Bank says 80 percent of timber exports are illegal.
But the triumph was short-lived. The driving force behind the operation, the chief of Peru’s forest inspection service, was soon dismissed — on the same day the U.S. ambassador visited him for a pep talk — and forced by death threats to flee to the United States.