Kandal province authorities discovered nearly 500 kilograms of rosewood during a warehouse raid on Friday, after questioning six suspects detained in an earlier raid that netted more than 2,000 luxury-grade logs.
Seng Kimkhom, the head of the provincial anti-economic crimes office, said that provincial police and Forestry Administration officials raided the warehouse in Takhmao district’s Takhmao commune on Friday after 2,377 logs of rosewood were seized from a warehouse in the district’s Takdol commune last Monday.
Six suspects were arrested during Monday’s raid, Kimkhom said, adding that he did not know their names.
Under questioning, the suspects told officials about the second warehouse, where 415 kilograms of rosewood were found and confiscated, he said. No suspects were at the scene of Friday’s raid, he added.
Based on the quantity of wood found at the warehouse locations, the wood “might belong to only one prominent owner”, he said, adding that authorities had not yet identified the owner.
Officials are still investigating, he said, and will examine security footage from the first warehouse to try and identify an owner.
The six suspects were charged under Article 98 of the Forestry Law on Tuesday, and are being detained at the provincial prison, Nhem Dararith, director of the provincial Forestry Administration, said yesterday.
“Now, we don’t know who the owner is,” Dararith said. “Sometimes, [the suspects] are the owners, but they just put blame on others.”
If convicted, they face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100 million riel, or about $24,300.
Dararith added that the landlord of the second warehouse also tipped off police after he heard about last Monday’s raid.
Chheang Dina, an official at the Takhmao Forestry Administration, said the landlord claimed he was given $1,000 from an “unknown man” to temporarily store the 415 kilograms of rosewood, but as no lease had been drawn up, he did not know his name.
Separately, authorities in Kratie province on Friday seized 242 logs of first-grade Sokrom from a site in Sambor district. Soum Sarith, the district governor, said no suspects were seen at the site.