A truck bearing Royal Cambodian Armed Forces licence plates and carrying more than 70 pieces of rosewood timber was raided by Kampong Thom province authorities in front of the provincial military police office on Friday night.
The driver and passenger fled the scene and, despite police pursuit, evaded arrest, authorities said.
According to Ith Sothear, Kampong Thom provincial court prosecutor, police pursued the vehicle from Trapaing Russey commune to the military police office in Baray district.
However, instead of pulling over, the drivers threw open the car doors and jumped from the still-moving vehicle into a rice field, while the truck careered into another military vehicle.
No one was injured in the crash.
“We believe [they] used RCAF licence plates in order to trick the police and transport the rosewood,” said Sothea, explaining he did not believe the men to be soldiers or affiliated with the military. “I believe the car belonged to the illegal businessmen.”
Inside the truck, which was travelling from Preah Vihear province to Phnom Penh, police discovered 71 pieces rosewood.
Both the wood and the now-damaged vehicle are being held at the provincial court as evidence for an investigation into the incident.
The insignia of the Intervention Division 3 Command was also found on the inside of the truck door, according a report by the National Police.
However, commander of the division in Preah Vihear province, Srey Doek, denied any connection with the owner of the truck and said he believed the division’s logo was being used illegally.
“I do not think RCAF would commit such an act,” he said, adding that he urged authorities to open an investigation and protect “the name of the RCAF”, which he thought illegal traders might have used to evade the police.
Nhem Sarat, Adhoc’s provincial coordinator, said that RCAF licence plates are not frequently misused for transporting rosewood in Kampong Thom, but the fake plates are frequently spotted on cars.
“In some cases, the RCAF licence plates are used to carry goods without taxes,” he said.
Provincial police said they were not affiliated with the incident.
Military police could not be reached for comment.