More than 2 tonnes of protected rosewood were discovered and seized from a prominent alleged illegal timber trader in Oddar Meanchey’s Anlong Veng district on Saturday. The home of “Grandma May” was raided by police, military police and forestry officials.
While the joint forces successfully confiscated the wood, the trader and her workers were not apprehended, according to Sor Sopheak, provincial deputy prosecutor.
“When we arrived, we did not see the timber owner or any other person . . . Maybe they knew in advance,” said Sopheak, who led the raid.
Sopheak said authorities only know the trader by the moniker Grandma May and are searching for more clues to her identity.
The rosewood was impounded at the provincial Forestry Administration.
Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said countless sawmills are located in the area, often owned and operated by Vietnamese nationals, but officials rarely ever target high-profile traders. “Legal measures are taken against most small-scale traders, not big sawmills that offer benefits for some officials,” Naren said.
In separate, smaller busts, officials in Preah Vihear and Pursat confiscated 86 and 27 logs of luxury timber, respectively.
Puth Bunchhoeun, Pursat’s Veal Veng district military police commander, said the 27 logs amounted to 13 cubic metres.
“The timber was cut into planks and hidden on reserved state forest land,” he added.