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Buddhist sculptures seized at Thai border

Customs police in Battambang have busted a group of men attempting to smuggle 79 packages of Buddha sculptures into Cambodia in a bid to avoid paying taxes.

Ke Dern, a deputy chief of the checkpoint, said the men, who often push carts across the border, attempted to sneak their merchandise past officers on Monday evening.

He said their attempt to make their goods look nondescript was foiled by the packages’ odd shape.

“They packaged it to look like any usual product, but police had their doubts,” Dern said.

“The package didn’t look like cloth or any normal product.”

According to Dern, the Buddha sculptures, which are not antiques, are made from chankiri wood from Thailand in the Chinese style to sell in Cambodia.

Although not illegal to possess, the statues are subject to tax and must be accompanied by legal documents, unlike smaller wares like clothes, he said.

Hou Vuth, a police chief of Santepheap commune, said customs police had taken the items.

It is alleged that they belong to a 35-year-old Battambang town resident.

Chan Van, a cart worker at Phnom Dey border, said people often tried to disguise items as clothing or similar small-scale goods to avoid paying taxes.

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