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Illegal loggers take to waterways

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
File photo.

Stung Treng provincial police yesterday cracked down on an illegal timber operation that was transporting logs along the Sekong river in Strung Treng city.

Provincial police chief Major General Mao Dara said the illegal timber operation was using rafts to float illegally felled trees along the river, which was spotted by authorities.

“There were about ten logs being transported,” he said. “We have not yet managed to get them out of the water for measurement, but they are luxury timber.”

He noted that the owners of the logs managed to escape the scene before police arrived and that authorities are now in the process of hunting them down.

“Police are investigating to find those illegal traders to take action according to legal procedures,” he said, noting that his team was joined by forestry officials.

Under direct orders from the provincial governor, Maj Gen Dara said his forces have been stepping up their illegal logging crackdowns.

He noted he has created a special task force and divided it into smaller teams tasked with weeding out the criminals.

He said the work of his forces has led to illegal traders finding new ways to transport their illegal hauls, including along the river.

“The transportation on land has been quiet as some traders have turned to the river,” he said. “With the water levels high, it has been difficult for us to catch them all.

“However, we have forces on patrol regularly both on the land and the waterways, and we also have measures to prevent forest crimes,” he added.

The Stung Treng provincial forestry administration could not be reached for comment.

In August, Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon urged authorities to strengthen illegal logging patrols after the government vowed to reform the forestry sector.

According to the annual report from the ministry, there were 1,428 forestry and wildlife crimes in 2017, with 778 cases ending up in court and the remaining 650 cases leading to administrative fines.

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