Kevazingo traffic in Gabon: Investigating officers threatened


Libreville, Thursday 7 February 2019 (News from Gabon) – Threats are being made to the team of this mission and especially to the customs officers in order to slow down the momentum of this major operation.

Rebound in the Kevazingo wood scandal at the port of Owendo. Although the PRAESIDIO operation continues, the investigators are currently victims of intimidation of all kinds, after discovering more than 5,000 m3 of transformed Kévazingo. More than thirty containers filled with this protected species (Kevazingo) were seized on 6 March 2019 on the site of the company 3 C transit by the customs agents.

Gabonese customs lead Operation PRAESIDIO under the impetus of the World Customs Organization. For several weeks, controls and investigations on endangered plant and animal species (CITES Convention) have been organized throughout Gabon.

The first control carried out on February 28, 2019 by the joint team of agents of Customs, Water and Forests, the National Agency of National Parks and the Judicial Police with the support of the NGO Conservation Justice, had allowed discover a large amount of processed kevazingo wood in the warehouse of Yuntung International. Padouk and Okoume in cantilever were also discovered at the site of the company 3 C transit.

It is more than 300 containers already stuffed and ready for export which are stored on the site of the company 3 C transit. 30 Containers filled exclusively with processed kevazingo and others in the form of squares were discovered during this inspection operation. To date, it is estimated that more than 5,000 cubic meters of processed kevazingo wood were ready to be exported illegally! This huge quantity represents several billion FCFA (several million Euros).

What will be the fate of this forbidden wood, classified as non-exploitable by Decree 00099 / PR / MFE of March 19, 2018 setting aside kevazingo in the Gabonese Republic? What are the possible complicities around this contraband?

While some languages are loosening, others want to block this operation. Judicial intimidation and threats to the team of this mission and especially to the customs officers want to slow down the momentum of this major operation. Who are these people and what is their involvement in this big illegal timber bleaching?

It must be remembered that the agents were often threatened and intimidated during previous operations of this scale which made it possible to dismantle vast networks constituting a disturbance to the economic public order. The operation called "Eagle Customs" carried out late 2017 is a perfect illustration.

The prosecutor of the Republic of Libreville, present regularly on the spot, recalled that no action of any kind whatsoever should hinder this investigation. To date, several people have been arrested, including the head of the Owendo Port Water and Forests Control Brigade and two Chinese nationals who work for Super Bois du Gabon (SBG) and 3 C Transit. The provincial director of water and forests of the Estuary was also arrested.

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