Military police in Kompong Chhnang province said they found 290 kg of rosewood in the back of an SUV with military license plates yesterday but failed to apprehend the driver, who escaped in a car that had been following his.
Boribor district military police commander Kith Kunthea said his officers were tipped off to a possible timber smuggling run along National Road 5 and stopped the SUV at a checkpoint that had been set up in the district’s Trapaing Chan commune at about 7:30 a.m.
“We found 13 pieces of rosewood inside that weighed a total of 290 kg,” he said. “The wood was taken away to be stored at the Forestry Administration cantonment.”
Military police officer Toeum Toeuy, who led the operation, said they were tipped off by an undercover “agent.”
“We got a report from our agent, who said three vehicles suspected of transporting rosewood were going to drive past my checkpoint,” he said.
But when the SUV stopped a few meters short of the checkpoint, Mr. Toeuy said, the driver jumped out and hopped into one of the two cars behind his, which then blew through the barrier and escaped.
“We could not arrest the driver because when he stopped the SUV he ran to the other car, which sped away,” he said. “The driver yelled insults at us and threatened to shoot my officers before he jumped into the other car.”
Mr. Toeuy said his officers could not give chase because they had no cars or trucks with them at the time.
He said the abandoned SUV was taken to the provincial military police headquarters and that his officers were searching for the identity of its owner, adding that they believed the wood had come from Pursat province and was on its way to Phnom Penh.