Ratanakkiri provincial police arrested two men on Saturday alleged to have been transporting 51 pieces of Siamese rosewood in a car in Banlung district’s Kachanh commune, according to district police chief Huoth Boury.
“We arrested them at about 1:30am on National Road 78 travelling from Stung Treng to Ratanakkiri. We sent the car and suspects to the Forestry Administration,” Boury said, noting that the timber weighed 389 kilograms.
Boury added that eight officers took part in the arrest of suspects Sary Chea, 45, and Nuth Doeun, 42.
“We searched the car because its seats were strange, they were higher than normal,” Boury said. “They did not know that we knew they had hidden it under their seats.”
That evening, military police in Kampong Thom’s Baray district arrested Neang Boren, 31, and Pao Rith, 49, after allegedly discovering 21 pieces of Siamese rosewood in their car in Balaing commune, according to a spokesperson for the provincial prosecutor’s office, Say Noura.
“We sent them to the judge and he decided to place them in pre-trial detention,” Noura said. “The court has charged them with collecting rare timber . . . That carries a sentence of one to five years.”
Trade in Siamese rosewood has been illegal under Cambodian law since 2013, but despite the ban, Vietnamese customs authorities have recorded at least a quarter of a million dollars’ worth being exported this year alone.