Ratanakkiri provincial police deported ten Vietnamese nationals on Monday after they were caught illegally crossing the border to harvest Malva nuts in Andaung Meas district.
Lak Vannarith, the district chief of police in charge of security and immigration, said the ten Vietnamese nationals were immediately deported to Vietnam.
“The Malva nuts had not gone ripe yet and that’s why they had to use saws and axes to cut down the trees,” he said. “We didn’t fine them because they had not gotten the chance to pick up the nuts and they had nothing.”
Mr Vannarith said despite how hard it is to enter the area, police would often receive information regarding people who would go into the forests to harvest the nuts. “It’s difficult for vehicles to enter the area so most people are on foot,” he said.
Chea Bunthoeun, a Ratanakkiri provincial police chief in charge of immigration, said that after being caught, the ten men were sent to the Vietnamese border patrol station nearby.
“We decided to hand them over to the border office in Kon Tum province because it happened near the border,” he said. “Vietnamese authorities had to educate them and told them not to repeat the wrongdoing.”
“We understand that this is their first offence, but next time we will implement our rule of law,” he added.
Mr Bunthoeun said authorities must be more vigilant during days where celebrations are held all around the country.
“It was the last day of Khmer New Year. They took the opportunity while we were protecting our citizens,” he said. “However, we know their plan in advance and I ordered our forces to cooperate with the district police.”
“They are from Kon Tum province’s Sa Thay district,” he added. “We are neighbours and we have an abundance of Malva nuts and it’s normal that they will attempt to steal it if we do not protect our side.”