Police in Kandal’s Takhmao district intercepted a truck carrying more than a tonne of internationally protected Siamese rosewood late on Tuesday afternoon.
Seng Kim Khaun, a Kandal province economic crime police officer, said the seizure took place in Kampong Samnanh commune. The Korean-made 1.5-tonne truck, which had no licence plates, had just crossed the river from Phnom Penh across Takhmao Bridge.
“We followed it for about 2 or 3 kilometres, but the truck was getting faster. When we reached it, the driver had gone,” Kim Khaun said.
Officers were acting on a tip from a paid informant, who had spotted the truck that afternoon. “He saw a truck without number plates and entirely covered, and he reported it to us, for which we gave him around $10,” he said.
He added that he believed the driver had intended to carry the wood to Vietnam via National Road 2.
All exports of Siamese rosewood out of Cambodia have been illegal since 2013, and the international trade in the precious wood was all but outlawed by the United Nations Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that same year.
However, CITES figures show that trade in Siamese rosewood across the Cambodia-Vietnam border continued to flourish despite the ban, with almost half a billion dollars worth being registered by the convention’s secretariat as having left the Kingdom for its eastern neighbour.
Kim Khaun said both truck and timber are being held by the Takhmao Forestry Administration office, whose representatives could not be reached.