The types of people involved with illegal logging in Peru range from individuals whose involvement is due to poverty and exploitation, through to highly organized criminal gangs. Most forest crimes go undetected, unreported, or are ignored. Few cases result in punishment and any penalties are usually small, providing no deterrent in light of the huge illicit gains that can be made for stolen forest assets.
The President of the Ashéninka indigenous settlement of Saweto, Edwin Chota Valero, has been petitioning the Ucayali regional government in Pucallpa for the last 10 years to gain legal title for Saweto, a 275 square mile region in Peru. Chota saw titling as a fundamental step toward wiping out the epidemic of illegal loggers who are stealing Saweto's forests. A charismatic activist, Chota made it his business to confront illegal logging crews in his pursuit to create an ecological reserve where his people could live sustainably. As his activism intensified, so too did the threats to his life.