The National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention on Sunday seized nine trucks as they made their way toward the Trapaing Sre checkpoint in Kratie province toward Vietnam.
The trucks, loaded with timber, were stopped in Snuol district before they could cross into Vietnam. After they were stopped, the trucks were taken to the provincial military police headquarters.
Lieutenant General Hong Vinol, head of the NCFCP working group, yesterday said the trucks belonged to Siemon Agriculture Comprehensive Development Company.
“We stopped them because they were overloaded with logs,” Lt Gen Vinol said. “It’s against the Forestry Administration’s regulations.”
He noted that Siemon is licensed to export timber, but it is not allowed to overload its trucks.
“Our working group is checking the nine trucks now,” Lt Gen Vinol said, adding that NCFCP has been looking to identify companies involved in forestry crimes. “We recently inspected Think Biotic and Chhun Hong companies.”
The anti-logging taskforce has been cracking down on forestry crimes over the past few months.
So far, two tycoons have been indicted for allegedly running large-scale logging operations in Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces.
More than 40 trucks suspected of being used to transport illegal timber were confiscated by NCFCP. Some were dismantled before they were destroyed with TNT.
Lt Gen Vinol said since crackdowns ramped up in July, NCFCP has arrested 15 suspects in Mondulkiri province and two in Kratie.
According to a letter issued by Forestry Administration deputy director Chann Ponnaka on August 9, Siemon was permitted to transport about 17 cubic metres of timber through the Trapaing Sre checkpoint before August 17.
Srey Vuthy, spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, yesterday said Siemon is a registered company and it reached an agreement with the ministry to export timber.
“This is a legal company that has a license to transport timber to a foreign country,” he said. “It’s not like its some Economic Land Concession going against the law.”
Representatives of Siemon could not be reached for comment.
Ouch Leng, an environmental activist, said Seimon is a company owned by a Chinese national.
He said some Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean companies are in the Kingdom looking to profit from selling timber products.
“Even though they have the documents, authorities still do not know if the logs are legal or not,” he said, adding that the Forestry Administration should first inspect companies to see where the logs came from before issuing an export license. “I request that the government stop issuing export licenses.”