Two separate raids on illegal timber stashes resulted in major confiscations between Friday and yesterday. On Friday, a team of officials from the police, military police, the Forestry Administration and the provincial court raided two warehouses in Svay Rieng province.
The warehouses, which belong to depot owner Khlang Say, were raided due to growing suspicions on the part of local investigators that Say was illegally gathering first-grade timber, said Tay Sam Ang, deputy director of the provincial police station’s economic crimes division.
“There were 83 sokrom logs and hundreds of planks made of first-grade timber,” Ang said. “Our forces are moving [the timber] from the trucks and counting it; some of the timber is legal and will be returned to the owner.”
Contact details for Say could not be obtained yesterday.
More than 10 officials from the inter-agency force are guarding the warehouses around the clock to make sure that no timber can be smuggled out.
Kong Chan Khemarith, a provincial prosecutor, confirmed that officials are counting the timber but refused to elaborate.
Meanwhile, Forestry Administration officials in Preah Vihear province seized 8.3 tonnes of rosewood and other timber yesterday, but failed to apprehend the two men responsible for smuggling it.
Mork Panha, head of the Choam Ksan Forestry Administration, said his team detected the timber when they spotted a truck loaded with recycled beer and soft drink cans. Suspicious, the officials stopped the truck.
“The truck driver and his assistant escaped into the forest while the authorities were inspecting the goods on the truck,” said Panha. “We discovered many pieces of luxury timber hidden under those recycled goods.”
Panha said that of the 3,867 pieces of timber seized, 3,777 pieces were rosewood and 90 pieces were neang nuon. According to Panha, his team impounded the truck and the timber at the Choam Ksan Forestry Administration station.
“Now the authorities are working with the experts and Prey Veng provincial authorities to find the truck owner’s identity,” he added.
Preah Vihear provincial Adhoc coordinator Lor Chann remarked that the authorities there have yet to catch a timber smuggler.
“The authorities only confiscate the evidence, especially rosewood,” Chann said. “It could be negligence or the intention of the authorities to release the suspects.”