In April 2022, the sound of a sawmill cut through the murky dawn that was steaming over Cambodia’s western Koh Kong province. At around 5 a.m., the provincial prison was abuzz with activity.
Huge unprocessed logs, some measuring well over a meter, or 3 feet, in diameter, were being rolled about the dusty yard behind the prison by men in tattered clothes. Other pieces of timber were being fed into an industrial sawmill at the rear of the yard, while stacks of timber were littered about in and outside the compound.
A dazed, sleep-deprived driver staggered out of the yard, squinting in the pale sunlight and wearing nothing but a sarong. His task had been to deliver the 16-wheel crane truck holding another five felled trees that stretched beyond the length of the blue-and-white truck’s flatbed by several meters. The license plate, 3A-0789, was scarcely visible under the protruding trees.