Timber Smuggler Flees Into Ratanakkiri Forest

Armed authorities in Ratanakkiri province on Tuesday intercepted a pickup truck headed for the Vietnamese border with a valuable load of illegally logged timber but were unable to apprehend the driver, an official said.

Local military police and Forestry Administration officers stopped the Toyota Tundra on National Road 78—a notorious timber smuggling route—after hearing that it was being loaded in Banlung City earlier in the day, according to O’Chum district military police commander Vorn Thean.

Mr. Thean said a total of 1.8 cubic meters of luxury-grade Thnong wood was recovered from the truck but that the five or six officers at the scene were unable to apprehend its driver. “The driver got out of the car and ran into a nearby forest,” he said.

The district commander said the truck was stopped in O’Chum’s Kalay commune and that the timber was likely destined for sale across the border, where vast amounts of wood from Ratanakkiri’s once verdant forests have disappeared.

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