Stung Treng police and forestry officials are searching for logging groups after discovering two illegal sawmill camps in the woods in Sesan district’s Talat commune.
The sites were uncovered on Saturday but the loggers had given the authorities the slip, provincial Forestry Administration director Chheang Tola said yesterday.
The loggers also took their chainsaws and valuable timber with them, leaving none to be seized. Officers burned both camps to deny the lawbreakers a place to return.
“We travelled in and found two places and then we took action immediately,” Tola said. “We do not know for how long they did it.”
Authorities don’t know the loggers’ identities and are investigating to find out, he said.
According to local news reports, the operator of the sites had allegedly stockpiled 50 cubic metres of timber at the two camps but managed to take it away before the raid.
The reports also said that police found three mini-tractors employed by locals to transport timber, along with some hand tools, but didn’t seize any of this equipment.
Sorn Bun Huot, the commune police chief, declined to comment about the reports, and Mao Dara, the provincial police chief, said that he didn’t know the details of the case.
Separately on Monday, Stung Treng economic crime police chasing after a group of suspected rosewood smugglers only managed to catch a Thala Barivat district forestry official.
San Nimol, the provincial deputy police chief in charge of economic crime, said he launched an operation to catch the smugglers on Monday night. His officers chased after a Toyota Highlander and a Camry driving from Preah Vihear, across Stung Treng, towards Vietnam.
While chasing those cars, the cops saw another car following them. Suspecting that their tail was an accomplice of the smugglers, police stopped to arrest him, but the detainee turned out to be a forestry official who was also seeking to arrest the suspects.
“After interrogation, it was revealed that he is Thala Barivat Forestry Administration official Sam Borin, and he was also chasing after those vehicles as well,” Nimol said.
Police and forestry officials resumed the chase and eventually caught both cars, seizing more than 1,000 kilograms of rosewood. However, the smugglers abandoned their vehicles and escaped on foot, according to Nimol.