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HOUSTON – When Houston customs agents halted almost 1,800 metric tons of Amazon rainforest wood, it was enough to cover three football fields.
Never before had so much lumber been denied entry at a U.S. port on evidence that it was harvested illegally.
The October 2015 impoundment from a rusty freighter was a rare victory in the battle to preserve tropical forests and a blow against criminal logging in Peru.
But the triumph was short-lived. The chief of Peru's forest inspection service was soon fired and forced by death threats to flee to the U.S.
An Associated Press investigation found that Washington's efforts to get Peru to clean up its notoriously corrupt timber industry were badly undermined, and Peru failed to meet environmental requirements set by a 2006 agreement with the U.S.