Eight people were sent to the Svay Rieng provincial Forestry Administration on Tuesday after the Royal Gendarmerie in Svay Rieng province questioned them for illegally transporting charcoal to Vietnam, its commander Se Vuthy said on Tuesday.

The eight were arrested near the Cambodia-Vietnam border gate in Busmon Village, Busmon commune, Romduol district, while planning to transport the charcoal across the border for sale in Vietnam.

Vuthy said on Monday that with the assistance of the Svay Rieng Provincial Court prosecutor, the Royal Gendarmerie in Romduol district stopped eight cars carrying charcoal.

The consignment belonged to a group of merchants who intended to illegally transport them to Vietnam. The charcoal was made from valuable wood. They were not artificial charcoal. Therefore, the act of burning such charcoal is illegal according to forestation laws.

Officials are now questioning the vehicle owners and preparing a report to be submitted to the Forestry Administration officials for further action.

“According to the law, selling artificial charcoal is allowed, but burning wood to make charcoal is allowed only for own-use. In this case, the merchants were transporting a large amount of it without the proper legal permission and intended to sell it in Vietnam, which is why we stopped them,” Vuthy said.

Provincial Forestry Administration director Kol Sovann could not be contacted for further comments. Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director Thach Ratana also could not be reached for comment.

Provincial deputy police chief Meas Chak said he had not received any news and his forces had not cooperated with the Svay Rieng Royal Gendarmerie.

“If it takes action on its own, that probably means it has enough manpower because they will always request our assistance if they are short-handed,” he said.

A local newspaper quoted a Royal Gendarmerie officer in Romduol district as saying the suspects used Road 313 to the Cambodia-Vietnam border to cross through the Busmon border gate, in Busmon, Romduol district.

He said the merchants had contacted the officers at the border checkpoints of both Cambodia and Vietnam to request the transport of charcoal to Vietnam, but the captain on the Cambodian side did not allow them to cross the border at night without legal permission and ordered the car owners to go back.

However, he said, the merchants did not back down and parked along the roads near the border gate. Then, in the morning, the Royal Gendarmerie of Svay Rieng province was patrolling and spotted them.