Some 100 pieces of luxury wood believed to be from the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary area were seized at the house of a military officer near the Vietnamese border on Friday, officials said yesterday.
The seizure comes just two weeks after the Walt Disney Company purchased $2.6 million worth of carbon credits as part of a plan designed to protect the sanctuary from illegal logging.
While the officer, identified as Chhay Savath, was not home during the raid, Chuy Sokheang, Forestry Administration chief for the Keo Seima area, said Savath’s wife, Chem Sovann, is being fined for possession of the timber.
“We searched the house and found the wood. At the time, he [Savath] was not home. His wife was there, so she is held responsible as the homeowner,” Sokheang said.
Sovann was not arrested, but faces a hefty fine, the size of which will depend on the amount of timber. Savath may still be separately fined as well.
Sokheang said that Sovann has one month to pay the fine or face arrest.
District Governor Sin Vannvuth, who lives next door to Savath, says the couple have been trading in illegal timber for years, but did not say if he had previously reported them.
“They mostly worked at night,” he said. “I let expert officials take legal action.”
In a separate incident, 47 pieces of luxury timber were found on Friday in Ratanakkiri’s Kon Mom district, according to provincial military police.