The governor of Preah Vihear province has told police to arrest two ringleaders of illegal logging across the Thai border for impersonating Anti-Corruption Unit officials, but officers have denied any such suspects exist.
Governor Un Chanda was quoted in local media as ordering the arrest of the two suspects while attending a ceremony to appoint a new Rovieng district governor yesterday morning.
“The two suspects that we have to arrest are the reason people illegally cross into Thailand to log wood,” he said. “They are the ones who offer them equipment and drugs. When groups of loggers return, these two are the ones waiting to take the wood off them.”
Governor Chanda did not name the suspects, but said each had 150 people working under them and added that they impersonated ACU officials to aid their schemes at the An Ses checkpoint in Chom Ksan district.
Contacted by phone, he declined to comment.
Chom Khsan district deputy police chief Chuk Som said he is not aware of the “two ringleaders” and that his police mostly found loggers venture across the border of their own accord.
“We always work to stop people from illegally crossing the border,” he said. “However, we have not heard anything about two ringleaders encouraging people to cross into Thailand.”
“When we arrest loggers, they admit they going to Thailand by themselves. They are not equipped with materials by anyone at all,” he added.
Provincial police chief Yin Chomnan said the governor’s comments are likely a strategy to discourage further illegal logging, since he too has not received information of two ringleaders.
“As the governor of the province, this is his strategy,” he said. “There are no two specific suspects, but sometimes large numbers of loggers are indeed led by ringleaders, so his strategy here could be to scare those unidentified ringleaders.”
“He said what he said to discourage illegal logging,” he added. “We have never had specific suspects impersonating ACU officials.”