Cancun, Q.R. — Six men with chainsaws who were sent to a mangrove area of the Cancun Hotel Zone to cut down protected vegetation have been arrested. More than 60 linear meters of mangrove was devastated before authorities were able to intervene.
Thomas Hurtado Morris, director of the Benito Juárez Fire Department said that “some gangland businessman” caused damage to the mangrove between kilometers 5.6 and 5.7 of Kukulcán Boulevard in the hotel zone, explaining that the person did so with the intention of taking advantage of the hurricane situation.
The businessman, whom he did not identify, allegedly sent six men with chainsaws to cut and tear mangroves that Morris says, were in good condition, noting that the area had survived the passing of the hurricane. He added that they did so “just four meters from the Semarnat headquarters in the hotel zone!”
The six men were arrested and handed over to the State Attorney General’s Office. In total, the crew were hired to remove approximately 100 meters of the protected mangrove. Staff from the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) also attended as did personnel from the Department of Ecology of the Benito Juárez City Council, however, much of the mangrove had already been destroyed.
Patricia Santos González, Conanp’s head of the Nichupté Mangroves department commented in an interview that the workers said they were unaware what they were cutting was protected fauna, but had simply been hired for a “job”.
“We must differentiate between those who cut healthy mangroves with machinery, with those who remove branches fallen by the passage of the hurricane,” explained the official. “It is a federal crime. This ecosystem is very important since it provides services to the city by protecting it from hydro-meteorological phenomena,” she added. “Signs and structures fell, but the mangrove was there.”
Authorities from Conanp have filed an official complaint with the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) and with the Attorney General’s Office. The news came to light Friday morning after citizens denounced the cutting on social media.