Police Seize 10 Cars Carrying Illegal Timber

Pursat provincial police on Fri­day seized 10 cars, each containing one cubic meter of illegally harvested luxury wood, officials said Sun­day.

Around 1 am, a convoy of Toy­o­ta Camrys traveling in the di­rec­tion of Phnom Penh approach­ed po­­lice, who were lying in wait in the prov­ince’s Krakor district, according to Hen Vu­thea, Pursat provincial po­lice chief.

The drivers tried to escape, but po­lice shot the tires of one car, stopped it, arrested its two occupants and seized its cargo, he said.

The drivers of the other cars sped away, but soon abandoned their vehicles, which were seized along with their cargoes of wood, Hen Vuthea said.

“This was not the first time they were carrying this timber to Phnom Penh,” he said. “They had been do­ing this for a long time, using Cam­rys to transport it.”

“The two men confessed they were hired by businessmen to bring [the wood] to Phnom Penh but would not say who they are,” Hen Vuthea said.

“Officials are involved in the case. If they didn’t have support from them, this timber could not be trans­ported on the road,” he added. The two suspects were sent to court on Sat­urday.

Pursat Provincial Court Pros­e­cu­tor Kong Bin said Sunday that the men were being held in Pursat pris­on and charged with illegally trading in timber.

Dozens of accidents along Kra­kor district roads leading to Nation­al Route 5 and Phnom Penh had in­trigued police, Pursat provincial Gov­­ernor Chhay Sareth said.

“We wondered why when there’s an accident, the cars always have wood in them,” he explained.

“So I ordered an investigation,” he said. “We took our time before con­fiscating [the wood] and arresting them.”

“Forestry officials are trying to stop logging and timber transportation. But they don’t do it and they can’t do it, so we have to do it,” he add­ed.

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