When times are tough, some Costa Ricans take their chain saws into the woods. Cutting trees without permits is illegal, but the jungle is vast.
Those with some money can even get a portable saw mill to reduce logs to chunks of lumber that can be shipped easier.
The most vulnerable time for the wood thieves is when the material is
being transported. Various methods have surfaced in the last six months, including simply putting the lumber in the back of a roofed pickup truck. A dump truck also has been used.
This is not chump change. The Fuerza Pública estimated Monday that a stash of lumber officers found on Isla Brava near the northern border over the weekend was worth six million colons or about $11,000. That lumbering operation appears to have been in the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Barra del Colorado.
Park guards from the Ministerio del Ambiente y Energía also were involved in the confiscation. What they and the Policía de Fronteras came across was a saw mill operation set up as a camp. Lumber was brought from elsewhere to be cut to size, said officials.
Two brothers were detained. The trees were of a number of species, said officers.
Also at the camp were two caged tepezcuintles or pacas (Cuniculus paca). These large rodents are good eating, and officials said the brothers appeared to be living off the land. The animals were eventually freed.
Last week Fuerza Pública officers intercepted a tractor trailer load of wood in southern Costa Rica. The origin of the wood was not known and it could have been shipped into the country. Police stopped the truck on the Interamericana at Guaycará de Golfito, they said.