Five men were arrested in Siem Reap province on Sunday after police found several tons of luxury-grade wood hidden inside the hold of a petroleum tanker truck.
Mom Bun Lim, head of the Forestry Administration’s Banteay Srei division, said authorities were tipped off to the contraband and asked the driver how much the truck weighed after pulling it over.
He said the driver and his co-pilot claimed 32 tons, far more than the 22 to 25 tons that the tankers usually weigh.
They then opened up the tanker hold and found it packed with Siamese rosewood, a protected but prized species that can fetch thousands of dollars per square meter.
“First the police arrested the two men. Then three more men came to negotiate [for the release of the wood], so the prosecutor ordered that they be arrested too,” Mr. Bun Lim said.
The men confessed that they were attempting to smuggle the wood from Oddar Meanchey province to Vietnam, he said, adding that they would be sent to court today to face charges.
Tea Kimsoth, head of the Forestry Administration’s Siem Reap cantonment, estimated that the wood weighed seven to eight tons.