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Huge timber haul seized in Kratie raid, suspects sought

Authorities use cranes to remove illegal timber from impounded trucks after it was seized on Friday, seen in a screen shot from a video by local media site PNN.
Authorities use cranes to remove illegal timber from impounded trucks after it was seized on Friday, seen in a screen shot from a video by local media site PNN.

Huge timber haul seized in Kratie raid, suspects sought

Kratie provincial authorities were searching on Wednesday for the owners of hundreds of cubic metres of first-grade timber found loaded onto seven heavy trucks during a raid on a warehouse in Snuol district.

After getting a tip-off, Military Police, police, Forestry Administration and court officials broke into the warehouse in Pi Thnou commune on Friday, discovering a huge illegal timber cache, but no suspects, according to Kuy Huot, provincial director of the Agriculture Department.

“It is first-grade timber, like sokrom, which was logged and transported from [another] province to gather at the warehouse,” Huot said on Wednesday.

The warehouse’s workers and the trucks’ drivers appeared to have fled, he added, and authorities are currently using cranes and an excavator to take the timber out of the impounded trucks for an official measurement.

“Only trucks and timber were seen on the site. [The suspects] are running away. [Forestry Administration] and Military Police are searching for the responsible persons by questioning some people in order to take legal action,” Huot said, declining to comment further.

Provincial Military Police commander San Bun Than declined to comment, referring questions to the Forestry Administration. Try Sopheak, the administration’s provincial director, could be reached.

Chea Sopheak, provincial court spokesman, said he visited the warehouse after the raid, but had not been briefed on the details.

In a video from the scene taken by local media outlet PNN, authorities can be seen cutting the lock of the warehouse and entering the premises. According to PNN, the timber had been hauled to Kratie from Mondulkiri province and was destined for sale in Vietnam.

Separately, Kratie Military Police and Forestry Administration officials confiscated hundreds of logs of first-grade timber hidden in a bamboo thicket in Snuol on Saturday, but no suspects were found, according to Sopheak, the court spokesman.

Sopheak said authorities were still seeking to identify the owner of the timber.

Snuol District Governor Kong Kimny could not be reached for comment on either case.

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