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Illicit haul costs truck

An overloaded vehicle split into two pieces in Kampong Chhnang province.
An overloaded vehicle split into two pieces in Kampong Chhnang province. STRINGER

Illicit haul costs truck

A Vietnam-bound pick-up truck laden with timber from which drug precursor chemicals are derived was so overloaded that its chassis snapped in half, leaving its cargo and two passengers to be scooped up by Kampong Chhnang town authorities yesterday, officials said.

According to provincial prosecutor Penh Vibol, nearly 60 large rectangular blocks of m'reah prov phnom – a type of tree from which safrole oil, a drug ingredient, can be extracted – were seized by Forestry Administration officials, but the truck’s driver fled.

“The safrole [wood] pieces were not yet processed, and there were 56 pieces – or 2,902 cubic metres,” he said.

Though the driver escaped, Svay Rieng native So Sarith, 55, and Battambang resident Nhem Pheakdey, 16, were arrested at the scene, he said.

A Forestry Administration official who asked not to be named said the two suspects had told authorities the pick-up was on its way to Phnom Penh from Pursat when it snapped.

The workers said they planned to get out of the vehicle once it reached the capital, before it continued on to Vietnam, the official added.

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