Cambodian officials smashed a cross-border wildlife trafficking syndicate after nabbing two suspects allegedly transporting exotic animals at Chhob Vary commune, Preah Net Preah district, in Banteay Meanchey on Monday.
Preah Net Preah district Forest Administration division chief Buth Thin said it intercepted a vehicle driven by the suspects, who are believed to be involved in shipping wildlife from Thailand through a checkpoint at Svay Chek district and onwards to Siem Reap.
According to police investigations, the suspects failed to stop and sped off from the scene to avoid arrest, thus forcing a chase.
The suspects’ vehicle went out of control after hitting a traffic barrier and plunged into a nearby pond, after which Ban Pharak, 28 and Yan Yeng, 39, from Siem Reap were arrested.
Upon investigation, police discovered 197 turtles, 17 heads of water monitor weighing 96 kg, and 10 live soft-shell turtles in the car – all highly priced wildlife commodities in the region‘s black market.
However, police are clueless on how to charge the culprits and are referring to the Forestry Law to punish them.
“We do not know how much fine to levy on them, but we are checking Article 96 of Cambodia’s Forestry Law. Their families agreed to pay the fine based on the law,” Thin said.
According to Article 96 of the law, the fine for the crime could be two to three times the value of the confiscated wildlife products based on the market price.
Preah Net Preah district military police commander Sim Rasy could not be reached for comment on Monday.