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Animal smuggler arrested in Baray

Baray district military police in Kampong Thom province arrested a 40-year-old man and confiscated 21 illegally transported wild animals, which were confiscated by the provincial forestry administration on Wednesday, according to Khun Bunhuo, Baray district military police commander.

He added that officials and traffic police chased a car on National Route 6 and apprehended a taxi driver who was smuggling eight porcupines, three lizards and 10 turtles from Stung Sen town to Baray district, but an accomplice who purchased the animals managed to escape in the ensuing chase.

“The owner ran away, leaving wild animals in the car, and we immediately arrested the driver and sent the animals to the forestry administration,” Commander Khun Banao said.

He added that his officials have “cracked down” on four cases of wild-animal smuggling so far this year.

Hem Tes, director of the Transportation and Public Affairs office in Baray district and one of 10 officials involved in the arrest, said they were on traffic duty when one policeman coincidentally saw the animals in the car, which prompted the arrest.

He added that his men accepted four million riel (about US$1,000) in compensation from one of the suspects in exchange for assurance that the car would be returned after the investigation.

“My group did receive four million riel at the time, but the driver was still sent to police in the province for further investigation,” he said.    

Keo Huo, Kampong Thom deputy police chief, declined to comment on the case, saying  it was an ongoing investigation.

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