Three accused illegal loggers have been placed in pre-trial detention in Ratanakkiri province, after authorities caught them on Sunday evening transporting nearly a tonne of rosewood.
According to Ratanakkiri anti-economic crimes police chief Nov Dara, the men were caught in Kon Mom district driving two vehicles that held more than 200 pieces of the precious timber weighing more than 960 kilograms.
Dara said the wood came from outside the province, though he was unsure if Ratanakkiri was its intended final destination.
“They brought those timbers from Sra Em in Choam Ksan district, Preah Vihear province to Ratanakkiri province. We do not know where they wanted to sell it,” he said.
Ratanakkiri Provincial Court prosecutor Liv Sreng yesterday said the pair faced two separate charges.
“The first one is collecting the rare type of rosewood, and the second one is transporting rosewood without permission,” he said.
According to the Forestry Law, any person that commits a Class I Forestry Offense, such as involvement in illegally harvesting precious wood, faces from five to 10 years’ imprisonment.
The suspects were identified as He El Pov, Sat Serey and Chem Keo, while the vehicles and timber were impounded at the Forestry Administration’s provincial office.
Also on Sunday night, Forestry Administration officials in Kampong Thom province stopped two SUVs laden with rosewood.
“We do not know the amount of the rosewood yet; the officers are measuring them.
The rosewood was loaded up to the height of the mirror,” Kampong Thom provincial prosecutor Ith Sothea said yesterday.
According to Sothea, two suspects managed to escape, thanks both to the lack of light and fear among officials.
“We sometimes do not stop [people] because some carry guns; we do not dare face them directly,” he said.
Sothea suggested that the timber may have originated in Siem Reap or Preah Vihear province and was being transported to an unknown market.
However, checks were now under way on the vehicles in the hope they would provide evidence of who was involved.
According to a recent study by NGO Global Forest Watch, deforestation in Cambodia has accelerated faster than any other country in the world since 2001.