Man with lumber in his truck pepper-sprays inspectors

A man pepper-sprayed in the face two government environmental inspectors who were looking into a load of lumber he was transporting Tuesday, according to a bulletin from the security ministry.

The man fled in the truck, the report continues. However, a suspect in the case was detained and sentenced to five years in prison before the day was through. The bulletin identified the man in custody as Navarro Cerdas. The bulletin also said that the man was given the benefit of conditional release, meaning he did not go to prison.

The inspectors who were attacked were part of the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones. The inspectors had been investigating the suspect for months because they thought that he was cutting down trees for lumber in a protected zone in the Dota cantón, the report said.

The inspectors intercepted Navarro while he was driving his truck from the protected zone in question, about 2.5 kilometers east of the central park in Santa María de Dota. The report says that Navarro sprayed the inspectors with pepper spray when they tried to look in his truck, and he then abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot.

The bulletin says that police scoured farms and thickets before apprehending the man in dead-end alleyway.

Fuerza Pública officers collected 153 2.5-meter-long wooden planks from the truck, the report says. Police also confiscated a can of pepper spray the suspect had on him when he was arrested.

The report also says that the same evening, a flagrancy court judge gave Navarro a conditional sentence of five years in prison specifically for assaulting the government inspectors and not for wood he is suspected of harvesting illegally.

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