From: Mark Stevenson, Associated Press
Published June 12, 2007 12:00 AM

Mexico Sends Police, Soldiers To Detain Illegal Loggers South of Capital

MEXICO CITY -- More than 1,000 officers, soldiers and federal agents arrested three men Monday as they were sent to detain illegal loggers in a mountain region south of Mexico City where an environmentalist was killed last month.

Officials fanned out across the township of Ocuilan, whose residents have waged a six-year battle against loggers cutting down one of central Mexico's last big fir forests.

Police in Mexico state, which borders the area, said they detained Everardo Garcia Martinez, 52, Raul Flores Gonzalez, 50, and Eric Garcia Gallegos, 20, as they drove a truck packed with two metric tons (2.2 U.S. tons) of illegally taken dirt.

The men were arrested for illegal logging and authorities did not say whether they were connected to the shooting death of Aldo Zamora, 21, on a nearby road on May 15.

Environmentalists, however, doubted the raid would solve the problem of logging or find Zamora's killers.

"This is too little, too late," said Hector Magallanes, a member of Greenpeace Mexico which had worked with Zamora on a project to measure the rate of deforestation and remaining tree cover.

He also said detained loggers are usually released quickly and return to the illegal work.

"This is organized crime," he said. "If they just do raids and catch only the underlings ... this is just going to go on."

Aldo's father and longtime anti-logging activist, Ildefonso Zamora, said he believes his son's killers are residents associated with the logging. He said he received threats before the attack on his son, in which another son, Misael, 16, was also wounded.

"What is needed here is for them (authorities) to catch the killers," Zamoras said weeks after his son's death. "We are getting desperate."

The forest stretches roughly 30 kilometers (20 miles) and loses some 2,400 hectares (5,930 acres) -- or about 2 percent of its area -- every year to illegal logging. Much of the area's land and lakes are protected areas or nature reserves, and home to endangered species including the tiny teporingo or volcano rabbit.

Source: Associated Press

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