The police and court prosecutor have cracked down on two trucks allegedly attempting to transport more than ten pieces of timber from the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province into Ratanakkiri province on Friday night.
Morm Vanda, deputy prosecutor of Ratanakkiri Provincial Court who led the operation, said the crime was committed in Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, but no one was arrested.
“I don’t know where the truck was heading to, but the crime we cracked down on is in the territory of Mondulkiri province’s Koh Nhek district, which borders the Lumphat sanctuary. We could not arrest the owner because they had escaped before we arrived,” he said.
“According to information I received, there were more than ten pieces of wood on one big truck. The provincial environment department did the measuring,” he added, saying the crackdown followed an investigation by police in the province.
Mr Vanda denied the possibility the truck might be heading for Vietnam as he said the sanctuary was not connected to Vietnam.
Ros Panha, police chief of Royor commune, said the timber was being smuggled into Ratanakkiri province.
“They planned to transport the timber into Ratanakkiri province. Unknown people tried to steal it from the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, but the trucks were stopped inside Mondulkiri just two to three kilometres from Ratanakiri province’s Lumphat district. Commune security guards deployed to safeguard the area from smuggling saw the trucks and reported to us,” he said.
“Then the expert forces came to patrol and seized it. The people escaped on seeing the coming forces as they are experienced smugglers. It happened between 9 and 10pm. There were a total of 13 pieces of sokrom wood with diameters from 20 to 30 centimetres,” he said.
Mr Panha said the trucks sneaked into the area knowing there was a lot of natural forest remaining in Mondulkiri province even though forces were deployed there.
Keo Sopheak, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial environment department, declined to comment yesterday.
Kan Penh, Koh Nhek district police chief, said police have not yet identified the owner as the case was still under investigation.
“The authorities are probing the owner of the timber as they escaped before police arrived at the scene,” he said.