Timber bust nabs 13

Officials inspect illegal timber after a bust on Wednesday in Kratie province. Photo supplied
Officials inspect illegal timber after a bust on Wednesday in Kratie province. Photo supplied

Anti-drug police stumbled on hundreds of logs during what they expected to just be a drug bust in Kratie province and arrested 13 people for running an illegal sawmill, as well as for drug possession.

Officers raided a house in Kratie district on Wednesday looking for drugs, but instead found a sawmill stacked with logs, including luxury timber, according to Un Hoiy, the Sambok commune police chief.

“The operation was aimed at cracking down on a drug case, but they saw the timber and Forestry Administration experts came to seize it, so there are two crimes at the site,” Hoiy said.

According to him, the sawmill was providing timber to make furniture, which was at times sold at the site as well. He added that Forestry Administration officials had impounded the timber but had yet to say how much wood was found at the site.

The operation saw six men and seven women arrested, including the homeowner and migrant workers, and four small packages of drugs and other materials seized as well.

Forestry Administration official Mey Vuthy could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Kong Vanarith, provincial deputy police chief in charge of anti-drug crime, declined to speak about the case, saying he was too busy.

In another timber bust, recently instituted checkpoints in the province proved fruitful when two vans with a total of 38 logs were busted on Tuesday and Wednesday in Chet Borei and Sambo districts, according to the National Police.

Uong Sambath, Chet Borei deputy district governor, said three motorcycles loaded with logs were also seized at the checkpoint but the drivers escaped.