An officer with Ratanakkiri provincial police, his Cham wife and two Cham butchers were arrested on Sunday over the theft of four buffalos from Phnong farmers.
Nuon Mon, deputy chief of the O-Chuom commune administrative police post, identified the accused as Captain Ek Sophatth, 52, of the major crimes unit in Ratanakkriri province, his wife Him Sah, 51, who is boss of a provincial slaughterhouse, and butchers Ly Sokkry, 24, and Phath David, 23.
They were arrested by Ratanakkiri provincial police on Sunday.
Mr Mon said that many cows and buffalos belonging to Phnong ethnic people had been disappearing from villages recently.
Another four buffalos were lost in O-Choum district on Saturday, prompting the owners to call the police.
Following a police investigation, three of the buffalos were found and seized on Sunday at Capt Sophatth’s slaughter house in Boeung Kanseng commune.
Another buffalo had been slaughtered and all that remained were two horns and some meat.
“They stole buffalos from the ethnic people and brought them to slaughter at their slaughterhouse to sell,” Mr Mon said.
“They were arrested by police on the basis of strong evidence.”
He said police returned the stolen buffalos to the owners.
The four suspects faced preliminary charges of theft and could serve up to three years in jail if convicted.
They were being detained temporarily pending further investigations at the provincial police station and will be sent to Ratanakkiri provincial court for questioning today.