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U.S. agents move against illegal timber imports from Amazon


NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - U.S. agents searched the offices of a California-based wood importer this week as part of a broadening government crackdown on imports of illegally harvested timber, according to a previously unreported federal search warrant seen by Reuters. The Department of Homeland Security agents are probing whether privately held Global Plywood & Lumber Inc violated U.S. and Peruvian law by importing wood that officials say was taken from the Amazon without proper permits, according to the warrant filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego on Monday and executed on Tuesday. No charges have been brought against the company. A Homeland Security spokesman in Houston said the investigation was ongoing. Kenneth Peabody, Global Plywood manager, declined to comment on the warrant, the latest sign of increased U.S. efforts to curb logging of rare forest species. In February, wood flooring giant Lumber Liquidators Inc (LL.N) agreed to pay more than $13 million in criminal fines and forfeitures to resolve a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the import of wood illegally logged in far eastern Russia, home to many endangered species. The Justice Department called that the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act, a conservation law passed in 1990 and amended in 2008 to ban commerce in certain plants and plant products, including those made from illegally logged woods.