Manager of Military Police General’s Alleged Timber Racket Arrested

Military police in Kompong Speu province on Thursday arrested another manager in the alleged timber trafficking operation of a local military police official and his son-in-law, both of whom remain at large.

Lieutenant General Chheng Long, a deputy chief of staff to the provincial military police commander, and his son-in-law, Sy Sar, have not been found since authorities raided the general’s warehouse in Chbar Mon district last month and seized two trucks loaded with a total of 54.3 cubic meters of unlicensed timber. They were charged with collecting and transporting timber without permits and have warrants out for their arrests.

Also charged and wanted for arrest was an individual by the name of Veasna Phanthana, though his alleged role was not revealed at the time.

The provincial military police commander, Brigadier General Chou Sarun, said on Thursday that Mr. Phanthana was arrested on Wednesday.

“We arrested the suspect in Oral district on Thursday and he was sent to the provincial court this afternoon, and the court has already detained him,” he said.

The commander referred additional questions to National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy, who hung up on a reporter.

It marks the third arrest in the case. Another manager, Tao Chinton, and a truck driver, Yim Sokphearom, were arrested during last month’s raid and the day before, respectively.

Chhin Sophoan, the clerk to Kompong Speu Provincial Court Investigating Judge Soeung Vuthy, confirmed that Mr. Phanthana was placed in provisional detention on Thursday and that Lt. Gen. Long and Mr. Sar were still at large.

Oral district governor Muong Thy said Mr. Phanthana was arrested at about 4 p.m. at his home.

“Veasna Phanthana is a manager and he was responsible for buying wood for Chheng Long and Sy Sar,” he said.

Chea Hean, director of the Natural Resource and Wildlife Protection Organization, who says he went undercover to investigate Lt. Gen. Long’s timber operation in December, claims that the general also has a second warehouse in Oral district. He says he saw the general and his son-in-law there ordering workers to load timber onto their trucks.

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