More timber seized from Ratanakkiri
Ratanakkiri provincial authorities yesterday seized a large cache of luxury wood and arrested four people about to sell the timber to Vietnam.
Ratanakkiri provincial police chief Kim Reaksmey said the wood was discovered at two separate locations in Banlung town’s La Bansiek commune and Boeung Kanseng commune.
He did not specify the exact amount of timber found.
Police also seized four cars and a motorcycle.
“We have yet to find the owners of the wood found in the two locations. We only apprehended these four suspects, who were also involved in drug use.
We haven’t measured how many cubic meters of luxury timber were confiscated yet, but we are transporting it to the Forestry Administration for further investigation,” he said.
He explained the crackdown was a collaborative effort with provincial coalition forces, under orders from the provincial court prosecutor.
Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization director Chea Hean said the discovery showed forestry law enforcement were still lacking.
“Forestry crime suppression doesn’t seem to be very effective because these offences still happen. The crackdowns are also ineffective because suspects get away. Some individuals may pay off the police so officers just allow these offenses to continue,” he said.
Provincial authorities last week seized 15 blocks of luxury wood in Lumphat district, also bound for Vietnam. Authorities confiscated 2,390 cubic meters of wood from the same location in February.
In February, Ratanakkiri provincial authorities seized 305 blocks of luxury wood from Lumphat district’s Seda commune.
In an attempt to stem illegal logging and forestry crimes, Prime Minister Hun Sen in January 2015 created a well-funded commission armed with two military helicopters to prevent widespread deforestation.
However, despite the commission and a ban on the export of timber to neighboring countries like Vietnam, the trade remained active and thrived in 2016.
It was reported that $33 million worth of unprocessed timber was exported to Vietnam, more than double the amount exported in 2015.
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