Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Koh Kong cops catch culprit recruited by clearing cartel

Koh Kong cops catch culprit recruited by clearing cartel

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cleared forestland is shown in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district on Wednesday. Photo supplied

Koh Kong cops catch culprit recruited by clearing cartel

Butom Sakor district administration officials in Koh Kong province arrested a suspect last Monday who was logging in a flooded forest in Angdong Teuk village in Angdong Teuk Commune, while four of his accomplice fled the scene.

Koh Kong provincial Environment Department director Man Phala said yesterday that illegal loggers have cleared 45ha of the forests, which prompted them to carry out the operation to arrest the culprits.

The arrest has exposed how a land-grabbing cartel is operating in the area to acquire forest land after hearing the value of land prices are on the rise. Local workers were hired by the cartel to clear the forest when authorities are not monitoring the area.

Phala lamented that the group failed to protect the natural forest and the wildlife sanctuary.

“The land which the offenders cleared was a flooded forest located in the Dang Peng Multiple Use Area in Botum Sakor district, Koh Kong province, which is a protected area for the community."

“We intercepted them when they were conducting the clearing works on Monday. Five people were involved, but only one was arrested while four others fled into the forest,” he said.

Phala said after interrogation, the suspect admitted that he was hired by a group to clear the forest but was unable to reveal any details about the people who ordered him to do the job.

“Based on his feedback, it appears he was hired to clear the forest but has not met the employer himself."

“He got the job through other people. At the moment, we are preparing a case to send him to court. The court has already issued a warrant to detain him temporarily,” he said, identifying the suspect as Sen Mao, 36.

Botum Sakor district governor Tou Savuth said people carry out land clearing for profit when authorities were elsewhere.

“As far as I know, they clear the land because of land price increases. But clearing of flooded forest is rare since we constantly monitor and intercept them,” he said.

The district covers the Andong Teuk and Thmor Sar communes and is about 120,000ha.

“We notice the group finds it difficult to clear the land secretly when we step up our surveillance, but they resume their logging work once we slow down. It is very hard to stop them,” said Phala.

Villagers living in Botum Salor district who declined to reveal their identities said once the land is cleared, a group takes ownership and later sells it to land dealers or private companies.

They said the forest clearing works have been going on for about two weeks.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the