Border police in Oddar Meanchey province on Wednesday arrested, and later released, 16 loggers attempting to smuggle 36 pieces of rosewood from Thailand to their homes in Samraong City, a police official said on Thursday.
The suspects, who live in Konkriel commune, were arrested in Oddar Meanchey’s Dangrek Mountains while attempting to return home with their haul after spending five days logging across the border in Thailand, provincial police chief Men Ly said.
“We educated them about how they are risking their lives by illegally sneaking into Thai forests,” Mr. Ly said, adding that after the timber was seized, the men were released into the custody of their commune chief, Loeung Noch.
Mr. Noch said he felt sorry for the men, who only ventured into Thailand to log luxury wood because they were poor farmers.
“Our villagers are living in poor conditions about half a kilometer from the Cambodian-Thai border,” Mr. Noch said.
He added that while police had confiscated their axes and saws, the men were allowed to keep the cooking utensils they had brought with them.