A man appeared in Kompong Cham Provincial Court on Friday, accused of hiding dozens of stolen cows and water buffalo in an underground cave behind his home before smuggling them to Vietnam, provincial officials said.
Police arrested Min Kim An, 53, on Wednesday after they discovered two stolen cows in a
underground cave in his backyard in Kong Chey commune, O’Reang-ou district, penal police officer Bum Born said Sunday.
The court charged him on Friday with purchasing stolen cattle, said Kompong Cham provincial prosecutor Uk Touch.
Police were tipped off to the cattle smuggling network by local farmer Nuon Sokhea, of neighboring Tbong Khmum district, who reported two cows missing.
Their hoof-prints led Nuon Sokhea to Min Kim An’s home, where he heard one of them crying, Bum Born said.
“He overheard one of his cows crying for her baby,” he said.
In his confession to police, Min Kim An said he was paid $75 by unnamed dealers to keep cows and buffalo in his secret lair. He told police he built the three-meter wide cave in April and had since kept about 36 cows and buffalo there before the dealers transported them to Vietnam and other provinces at night, Bum Born said.
Police said the cave, which was paved with concrete, was large enough to hold about four grown cows at a time. On the ground level above the cave, Min Kim An had constructed a cage where he kept three pigs to disguise the hiding place. The entrance to the cavern was covered with straw, police said.
Bum Born said police are still looking for 10 men suspected of being part of a larger network of thieves, pilfering cattle from neighboring districts and nearby Prey Veng province.
“This case is a little strange,” Bum Born said.