Oddar Meanchey authorities stopped a car with RCAF plates that was loaded with more than 300 kilograms of rosewood on Wednesday evening, although the driver escaped.
Provincial prosecutor Koy Kanya said Forestry Administration officials and Anlong Veng district police suspected that the Camry belonged to a border police official in the province. However, they could not be certain, as timber smugglers often disguise their vehicles with fake RCAF plates.
“When officers arrived no one was seen in the forest. They escaped,” said Kanya.
Kanya said he ordered Forestry Administration experts to investigate and find the vehicle’s owner and other stakeholders in the smuggling operation.
When asked why officials have been unable to catch smugglers in so many instances, Kanya said: “Sometimes they know that we are coming to arrest them and they could not go anywhere, so they abandon the timber.”
Other times, officers chase suspects up to a roadblock, at which time the smugglers tend to abandon their cars and escape on foot, and are more challenging to chase down as a result.
Anlong Veng Forestry Administration chief Khorn Khem declined to comment.
The Forestry Administration had a standoff with RCAF soldiers in Anlong Veng in March after the district administration’s office seized two timber-laden trucks belonging to soldiers, who then stormed the administration’s district headquarters to take the trucks back.
Separately, authorities confiscated more than 6 cubic metres of sokroam timber during a raid in Kampong Speu’s Oral district earlier this week. No suspects were arrested.