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Smugglers’ boats sink in timber chase

Smugglers’ boats sink in timber chase

Smugglers sank two boats filled with illegally logged rosewood into Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel River as they shook off pursuing rangers from Wildlife Alliance on March 22, the NGO has said.

An anonymous informant tipped off rangers in Sre Ambel district to the boats, allegedly filled with timber cut from the southern Cardamom rainforest and bound for Vietnam.

“Not only had the loggers escaped, but they also sank their boats to the bottom of the river,” a statement published on Wildlife Alliance’s website says. “It took 36 hours of diving [in]to 46 feet [deep water] to recover the 18 cubic meters of timber from the bottom of the river.”

And while the team of rangers has recovered about $13,000 worth of luxury timber, only one of the boats has so far been recovered, an NGO employee not authorised to speak with the press said.

At least five smugglers were sighted on the boats before they escaped, the source added.

“This operation was led by Wildlife Alliance rangers,” the official said.

Major Sieng Um, a military police official stationed in the area, said yesterday that he was unaware of the chase.

“I sometimes work with Wildlife Alliance related to these matters, but I have not heard about this incident,” he said. “I will investigate this matter next week.”

Two Koh Kong police officials who spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday confirmed the incident took place on March 22, but declined to provide further details.

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