Phnom Penh Autonomous Port officials last week found more than three tonnes of ivory hidden within a cargo container.
Hei Bovy, director-general of the port, yesterday said port authorities, along with customs agents, a prosecutor and police, inspected the container and found ivory hidden behind marble on Thursday.
“We found more than three tonnes of ivory hidden behind marble stored within the container,” Mr Bovy said. “The ivory amounted to 1,026 pieces.”
He noted the container arrived in August last year and was shipped by New Port Cypress Company from Vietnam to the Kingdom.
Mr Bovy said he did not know where the ivory came from. He noted that the company was not aware of its contents.
“After a joint commission checked and reviewed the contents, we stored the ivory in the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port office,” he said, adding that customs officials are preparing documents to be sent to court. “This is the first time we found ivory here at the port; we have never had a case like this before.”
A port official who requested anonymity yesterday said a total of 12 containers were checked. The official said United States embassy officials have also taken a look into the case.
“US embassy representatives joined to check and review the ivory,” the official said, noting that the container came from Mozambique before reaching Vietnam and Cambodia. “I think the container was transiting here in Cambodia. It was intended to be transported to another country. Cambodia doesn’t have an ivory market.”
Say Sopha, chief of controlling section at Phnom Penh Customs, yesterday said a report has been made and sent to his superiors.
“I just joined to inspect the ivory,” Mr Sopha said before declining to comment further.
Pol Seang, chief of administration with the anti-economic crime department, yesterday said his department was not involved in the inspection of the container.
In December last year, a joint operation led to the seizure of nearly a tonne of ivory hidden in containers at a port in Sihanoukville.