Vientiane Times, April 20,2015
Vietnamese traffic police in the central province of Nghe An have confiscated eight Lao-registered trucks allegedly laden with smuggled timber, Vietnam’s local media reported. The fleet was found parked on the roadside on National Highway 7 in Nghe An’s Chuong Duong district on April 7, Vietnam Breaking News reported on Saturday citing the Kien Thuc news website.
The confiscation occurred after police received a tip-off about the trucks and lay in wait near the place where the vehicles were supposed to appear. When the police asked the Lao truck drivers to produce papers, they refused, according to the media report. The following day the officers escorted all the trucks to a bus station in nearby Do Luong district. The investigation is continuing. The police said the trucks had brought the timber from Laos to Vietnam via the Nam Can Border Gate in Nghe An. Deputy chief inspector of the province’s Department of Transport, Phan Huy Chuong, said dozens of Lao trucks carrying timber are hiding on small roads off National Highway 7 to avoid Vietnamese traffic police. He said more officers have been stationed on the highway in a bid to tackle the problem. The news was also reported by the Thanh Nien , the tribune of Vietnam’s Youth Association, on its website, which showed pictures of the trucks loaded with timber. Despite the fact that the eight trucks are under investigation, Lao officials report that illegal logging and the illegal timber trade continue to be a pressing issue for the Lao authorities, who need to introduce stronger measures to combat these nefarious activities. The illegal trade in timber topped all cases uncovered in 2014 by the Lao economic police or the police in charge of economic crimes, according to an official report.
In 2014, the economic police registered 391 criminal cases nationwide, including 169 that involved the illegal trade of timber. The main goods exported from Laos to Vietnam, one of the country’s major export markets for timber, include wood and timber products, whose value exceeded 3.964 trillion kip (US$490 million) over the first nine months of 2014, the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reported, citing the General Department of Vietnam Customs.