An inspection of a truck transporting cassava through Siem Reap province’s Kralanh district on Tuesday revealed a massive haul of luxury rosewood.
Tea Kimsot, director of Siem Reap province’s Forestry Administration, said his forces and district police stopped the heavily loaded truck, which was travelling from Oddar Meanchey province, after being tipped off that it was carrying the endangered wood.
The search uncovered 23 tonnes of rosewood hidden beneath bags of dried cassava.
But, “when the truck was stopped, the driver and his assistant jumped out to escape”, he said.
“We do not know who the owner [of the wood] is . . . The owner will not dare to come and solve the problem since the truck is so big,” he added.
“We are searching for the suspects [and] both driver and the owner will be sent to jail if we capture them.”
Kralanh district police chief Phiv Saroeun, who joined the search, said the 23-tonne haul was the biggest his forces had ever seen.
“It was so much. We have never found such a huge amount of rosewood like this before,” he said.
Srey Naren, Oddar Meanchey provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said it was likely the rosewood had been illegally logged in Thailand before being carried into Oddar Meanchey.
“There is no rosewood anymore in our land.”