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Environmentalists Uncover Massive Timber Smuggling Operation in Indonesia

A leading environmental organization says it has uncovered a massive timber smuggling operation linking Indonesia's province of Papua and China.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency Thursday said 300,000 cubic meters of merbau wood is being illegally smuggled out of Papua every month.

It says the operation is threatening the last major tract of undisturbed tropical forests in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Illegal logging is common in Indonesia and the environmental group says it continues despite Indonesia's 2001 ban on exporting logs, and an anti-smuggling agreement between Jakarta and Beijing.

The smuggling operation, which the group contends involves the powerful Indonesian military, is worth up to $1 billion a year, based on the wood's value in the west.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.