Kampong Speu provincial police raided a warehouse stocking illicit Siamese rosewood on Monday afternoon, seizing nearly a tonne of the precious timber but failing to apprehend its owner.
Deputy provincial police chief Ouk Sophal said the raid took place in Samrong Tong district after eyewitnesses tipped off the authorities that a man identified as Nheun Ran, 33, was storing rosewood in his warehouse.
“We took action on Monday at 2:30pm with the cooperation of the district and commune chiefs and the Forestry Administration,” Sophal said. “We have not arrested the owner, because he escaped before the authorities arrived. We seized 440 pieces of rosewood weighing 945 kilograms.”
Despite a blanket ban on Siamese rosewood exports in 2013, Vietnamese customs data recorded a quarter of a million dollars worth leaving Cambodia in the first nine months of this year.
Meanwhile, military police spokesman Eng Hy was tight-lipped about a raid on Sunday in Preah Vihear that saw 200 troops and three helicopters descend on land occupied by Hong Sopheap Development Co. “The experts are working on it,” Hy said. “The case has not yet been sent to the prosecutor, but when they are finished, it will be sent to the court.”
Officials have refused to offer details on the raid, but environmental campaigner Ouch Leng has said the company had been logging nearby protected forests.