Authorities are prosecuting more than 1,000 people for logging illegally in Romania, police said Wednesday.
The crackdown began in June after the country was hit by devastating floods this year, with some recently deforested areas suffering heavy damages.
Police have issued 7,000 fines, totaling 5.2 million lei (US$1.73 million; Ђ1.45 million), and 1,057 people were being criminally prosecuted for cutting trees illegally, Police Commissioner Cornel Ciocoiu said.
The chaotic logging "was one of the causes for this year's floods," he said, blaming a lack of personnel to guard state and private forests.
Since 1991, there was little enforcement of laws protecting forests, he said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture employs just one-fifth of the rangers needed.
Among those facing criminal charges was the Runcu town mayor, who allegedly gave away part of a public forest to a private company. He is charged with abuse of power.
Other local officials have been accused of abusing their positions by approving deforestation projects or allegedly failing to protect public property.
Floods this year caused more than Ђ1.5 billion (US1.8 billion) in damage and killed 74 people. AM