A joint team of forestry officials and military police seized seven cars in Kompong Thom province reportedly carrying stashes of illegally logged wood and have linked a district military police chief to the crime, a provincial forestry official said Monday.
The vehicles were found and confiscated at three different locations in Stong district, with three of the seven cars being seized at the home of the district’s military police commander, Khun Bunhor, said Kompong Thom provincial forestry administration Director Ith Phumra. He said Mr Bunhor disappeared before authorities had the chance to question him and his current whereabouts are unknown.
Timber submerged in a pond on Mr Bunhor’s property was also recovered.
Officials found two cars each at two other district homes and are questioning their owners. Mr Phumra said the occupants of those homes did not own the vehicles and that they claimed unknown drivers parked the cars on their property and then left. Mr Phumra declined to say where the wood may have been logged.
Besides the homeowners, no other suspects were questioned in the crackdown, he said. Mr Phumra added that poor weather hampered the team’s ability to carry out its investigation.
“We had a mixed team and went to crack down on illegal logging during the night but the heavy downpour made our officials’ work difficult to complete,” he said.
Mr Phumra said the raid was lead by Chan Savuth, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture. Contact information for Mr Savuth was not available.
Kompong Thom provincial military police commander Hong Thol declined to comment Monday, as did his deputy commander, Pi Reach.