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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Logging busts but few arrests

Chainsaws sit on the ground in Kampong Thom province yesterday after they were confiscated from loggers during a patrol. Photo supplied
Chainsaws sit on the ground in Kampong Thom province yesterday after they were confiscated from loggers during a patrol. Photo supplied

Logging busts but few arrests

Officials yesterday publicised another trio of busts in the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on illegal logging, though once again, few arrests were made.

Rangers from Kampong Thom’s provincial Forestry Administration announced they had confiscated 11 chainsaws and 36 cubic metres of timber from a group of 33 suspected loggers this week.

The day before, police in Prey Veng’s Kampong Trabek district intercepted a truck loaded with sought-after raing tree trunks bound for Vietnam, deputy district police chief Khut Saray told the Post yesterday.

Eleven raing trunks were found loaded onto the truck, driven by a Cambodian and his assistant, neither of whom are believed to be owners of the wood.

While truck and trunks were confiscated, the two drivers were allowed to return home after questioning, according to district police officer Chhim Ratha.

Provincial police chief Sreng Chea explained that the gnarled tree trunks – which are illegal to export – are believed by many in Vietnam to bring good luck and protect against hardship, and so mature trunks of high quality can attract prices as high as $3,000.

Meanwhile, in Kampong Thom’s Sandan district, rangers were conducting a three-day operation that concluded on Wednesday to smoke out illegal loggers, netting the seizure of 36 cubic metres of timber and 11 chainsaws from 33 black-market lumberjacks, according to Hoeun Sopheap, a ranger who took part in the operation.

Only two of the 33 were apprehended, Sopheap explained.

“When they saw our patrollers, the loggers ran away,” Sopheap said, adding that the two captured were only briefly detained and made to sign a contract promising not to repeat their offence.

A previous version of this article referred to Sreng Chea as a district police chief. In fact, he is the Prey Veng provincial police chief. The Post apologises for any confusion caused.
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