Military Police Officer Caught Smuggling Wood

A military police officer was arrested Monday night at a border checkpoint in Kampot province as he attempted to cross into Vietnam with almost 700 kg of illegally logged wood, police said Wednesday.

Duong Seng Hong, 25, who told police he was a military police officer in Koh Kong province, was arrested while attempting to drive his Toyota Land Cruiser through the checkpoint in Kompong Trach district, according to district police chief Buth Somony. The vehicle had its back seats removed and was  loaded with three large blocks of m’reas prov wood, he said.

“At about 7 p.m Monday night the police at the checkpoint stopped the Land Cruiser, which was filled with wood,” Mr. Somony said. “The driver, a military police official, was arrested at the scene.”

Safrole oil, an illicit chemical used to produce the drug Ecstasy, can be extracted from m’reas prov wood.

According to Mr. Somony, the suspect has been held since Monday night at the provincial military police headquarters for questioning.

“The police cracked down on him while he tried to smuggle the m’reas prov wood into Vietnam,” he said. “The suspect was brought to the provincial military police for future questioning.”

Suon Sedara, Kampot provincial deputy military police commander, said Mr. Seng Hong was questioned Wednesday by provincial forestry officials to determine the origin of the seized wood and where he was traveling from.

“He is being questioned by provincial forestry administration officials to investigate the wood,” he said, adding the suspect may be sent to court today to face charges.

Mr. Sedara also said that Mr. Seng Hong is a military police official but denied to give his position.

However, asked about the case, Koh Kong provincial penal military police chief Roh Sokhoeun denied that Mr. Seng Hong was a military police officer in the province.

“It is not true,” Mr. Sokhoeun said. “He is not a military police officer working in my province. I don’t know that man.”

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