Ministry of Environment and Forestry Investigators Arrest Illegal Operators in West Sumatera Forest Regions

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Illustration of Palm oil plantation. Photo by: Sawit Fest 2021 / Anwarudin

PALMOILMAGAZINE, PADANG – Investigators from the Legal Enforcement Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MEF) in Sumatera, along with the Forestry Agency of West Sumatera Province, have identified EL (66) as a suspect in the illegal use and operation within forest regions.

This action followed the joint operation, Operasi Gabungan Pengamanan Kawasan Hutan Produksi Konversi (HPK), conducted on May 22, 2024, in the Basa Ampek Balai Tapan sub-district of South Pesisir Regency.

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During the operation, two suspects were apprehended: EL (66) from Baru Alang Rambah, Basa Ampek Balai Tapan, and MD (30) from Kumbung Talang Medan, Lunang sub-district. They were caught illegally planting and creating paths for palm oil cultivation using a Hitachi excavator.

Also Read: Palm Oil Accountant Suspected of Tax Crime: Files Sent to Attorney

Sufficient evidence was found to charge EL, who is now detained by the West Sumatera Police Department for further investigation. The arrest operation faced challenging conditions, including heavy rain and flooding. Tragically, Haryanto, Head of the Forest Taskforce at UPTD KPHL Bukit Barisan, passed away during the operation. The investigators successfully secured the heavy equipment, but the West Sumatera Police Department is still searching for the missing excavator.

General Director of Legal Enforcement MEF, Rasio Ridho Sani said that the operation to arrest EL and his presence with police forest, Sustyo Iriyono in West Sumatera showed the commitment of MEF to follow up every environmental crime that would deliver losses for the people and escalate the natural disaster. “Forest damage would deliver losses for the people and escalate the natural disaster to happen. We have to fight it,” he said as in the official statement to, Tuesday (4/6/2024).

Rasio Ridho Sani also said that the suspect – EL did not work alone. He had instructed the investigators to follow up if any parties would involve in the forest damage in the Sub district of Basa Ampek Balai Tapan. “We would not stop at EL. We are still investigating other parties that have something to do with this crime,” he said.

EL would be suded by Chapter 92 paragraph (1) letter b juncto (jo) Chapter 17 paragraph (2) letter a Laws Number (No.) 18 / 2013 about Prevention and Eradication of Forest Damage or Pencegahan dan Pemberantasan Perusakan Hutan (P3H) that was substituted by in paragraph 4 Chapter 37 number 16 Chapter 92 paragraph (1) letter a Laws Number 6 / 2023 about Government Regulation in lieu of Law Number 2 / 2022 jo. Chapter 78 paragraph (2) jo. Chapter 50 paragraph (3) letter a Laws Number 41 / 1999 about Forestry, as it was substituted by in paragraph 4 Chapter 36 number 19 Chapter 78 paragraph (2) jo. Chapter 36 number 17 Chapter 50 paragraph (2) letter a Laws Number 11 / 2020 about Cipta Kerja with the longest arrest for 10 years and fine 5 billion rupiah for the most.

Rasio Ridho Sani emphasized that EL and other parties involved in the crime would be charged including in environmental crime, forest fire, and forest encroachment crime. “I delivered orders to investigate the case that would involve investigators from General Directorate of Law Enforcement in Jakarta. There would be charges in the crime, such as, money laundry and would target who got the benefits from the money,” he said.

Meanwhile, Head of Forestry Agency West Sumatera Province, Yozwardi said that the operation would be the synergy and collaboration among MEF, Forestry Agency West Sumatera Province and Wes Sumatera Police Department. “We do appreciate the supports from MEF and the police in the operation. We lost our best forest official, Haryanto when securing the suspects,” he said.

Yozwardi continued, protecting the forest and lives of the people is our same efforts. “We would not stop fighting every crime in forest region in Tapan,” he said. (T2)

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