A 44-year-old driver was arrested in Prey Veng on Tuesday during a failed attempt to smuggle more than 600 kilograms of live wild animals across the border to Vietnam, but was released after promising to pay a fine at the provincial court the following day.
The director of the Provincial Agriculture Department, Uk Samnang, said that Forestry Administration and Anti-Economic Crime Police intercepted a van in Prey Veng town’s Svay Antor district on Tuesday, discovering six species of live animals packed in boxes weighing a total of 665 kilograms.
A Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the seized animals were handed to the team by authorities, and were healthy and have since been released into forests in Kampong Chnnang and Koh Kong provinces.
“The rescued animals include 371 kilos of snakes, 80 kilos of tortoises and 214 kilos of monitor lizards,” he said.
He added that the animals were hauled from an unidentified province to Phnom Penh before passing through Prey Veng on their way to Vietnam.
Provincial Prosecutor Meas Sopheak said the driver, But Khom, 44, was preliminarily charged by the Provincial Forestry Administration under Article 96 of the Forestry Law for “transporting wildlife animals without permission”, which calls for a fine but not imprisonment.
However, Sopheak added, Khom has not been charged by the court as the animals belonged “to an unknown trader”.
“We will set the time to summon [Khom] to pay a fine,” he said.