As Toek Tik recounts it, he was a teenage foot soldier for the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the late 1970s when he first realized that looting ancient statues could be a lucrative trade.
Once, while bartering stolen cattle for clothing along the border with Thailand, he recalled, a trading partner gestured toward his ox cart, which held the heads of statues Toek Tik had collected near his home.
To his surprise, he was offered money, hard currency, for them. For the livestock, he said, “they would give only shirts or a battery.”
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