Seven Vietnamese nationals and two Cambodians were arrested on Monday in a timber bust in Ratanakkiri province.
Deputy provincial police chief in charge of immigration Chea Bunthoeun said the suspects were apprehended while allegedly cutting wood in Lumphat district.
“When we found [the Vietnamese], we arrested them because they did not have passports and were caught committing a crime red-handed,” said Bunthoeun. The two Cambodians were arrested driving a makeshift truck to transport oil and food for the Vietnamese loggers, he said.
Police seized eight chainsaws and other wood-cutting equipment. Bunthoeun said the authorities questioned the suspects at provincial police headquarters, where they confessed to arriving in Ratanakkiri four or five days earlier to collect thnong and sokram timber. They are due to appear in court today.
In a separate case, also on Monday, Mondulkiri province officials arrested four Vietnamese nationals and confiscated three chainsaws and four motorbikes in a protected area in Koh Nhek district.
Keo Sopheak, director of the Mondulkiri’s provincial environment department, said the Vietnamese men crossed the border illegally to log trees in the protected area: “They had cut luxury timber . . . and they were found when authorities were on patrol.”
The Vietnamese loggers face charges of illegal logging in a protected area, collecting timber without permission and crossing the border illegally, said Sopheak.